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Saturday 13th of March 2010
March 11, 2010    

“Blue skies ahead”, say IATA

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by Kay Murchie
“Blue skies ahead”, say IATA

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the global airline industry is improving, with both passenger and freight numbers expected to grow this year.

In January, the industry body said 2009 saw the biggest decline in air passenger traffic since the aftermath of World War II.

The global economic downturn had a devastating impact on the airline industry, which led to a slump in demand as fewer people travelled by air.

Many airlines went bust during the downturn, not just due to a fall in demand but also as a result of higher fuel prices.

However, the IATA is slightly more optimistic and expects the world’s airlines to make a combined loss of $2.8 billion (£1.9 billion) this year, rather than its original estimate of $5.6 billion.

IATA chief executive, Giovanni Bisignani, said: “We are starting to see some blue skies ahead of us,” but warned European and US airlines were still suffering the most.

The body expects global passenger numbers to grow by 5.6% in 2010 and 3.1% for cargo traffic.

Mr Bisignani added: “We are moving in the right direction. The recovery is strong, but we are still at pre-crisis levels.”

However, the IATA cautions that rising fuel costs would hamper any industry-wide recovery.

The news comes as talks aimed at averting industrial action at British Airways (BA) have collapsed and failed to reach an agreement.

Last month, BA‘s 12,000 cabin crew members voted to take industrial action over cost-cutting measures, which include a pay freeze and a switch to part-time working for thousands of staff.

BA has admitted in the past that it is fighting for its survival and said the cost-cutting programme is part of a strategy to reduce salary costs.

Last month, pilots at German carrier, Lufthansa, took strike action after concerns that the country’s flag carrier would transfer jobs to foreign subsidiaries such as Austrian Airlines or Lufthansa Italia where wages are lower.

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