Some ‘blue skies’ ahead for airline industry

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The airline industry will recover this year as international passenger and freight numbers are improving.

This is the prediction of the International Air Transport Association, which said today the sector would still make a loss of $2.8-billion, but that this would be half the estimate it made in December.

Saying it was "starting to see some blue skies ahead", Iata expects to see global passenger numbers rise 5.6% this year, after falling 2.9% last year. And it predicts that cargo demand will rise 10%, after last year's 11.1% decline.

Iata director-general Giovanni Bisignani said: "We are moving in the right direction. The recovery is strong, but we are still at pre-crisis levels."

However, he warned that European and US carriers were lagging behind Asian and Latin American airlines. "We are seeing a definite two-speed industry," he said.

Iata expects European airlines to make a combined loss of $2.2bn this year, with US and Canadian airlines losing $1.8bn. But, it said Asian-Pacific carriers could report profits totalling $900m, while Latin American airlines may make $800m.

The Iata report came as German carrier Lufthansa said it intended to increase its operating profit in 2010 by cutting more costs. The airline made a net loss of 112m euros in 2009. It has not given a net profit projection for 2010.

Lufthansa and British Airways, which operate flights to Johannesburg and Cape Town, are planning to axe staff as they aim to turnaround their fortunes.

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