Global airline group predicts $11B industry losses this year

The International Air Transport Association released a revised global financial forecast Tuesday, predicting airline losses totaling $11 billion in 2009. This is $2 billion worse than the previously projected $9 billion loss due to rising fuel prices and weak demand.

Industry revenues for the year are expected to fall 15% to $455 billion.

"The bottom line of this crisis—with combined 2008-2009 losses at $27.8 billion—is larger than the impact of 9/11," says IATA CEO Giovanni Bisignani in a statement. "The global economic storm may be abating, but airlines have not yet found safe harbor."

Passenger traffic is expected to decline by 4% and cargo by 14% for 2009.

European carriers are expected to post the largest losses, $3.8 billion. IATA says key long-haul markets were hit by the world trade collapse and airport slot regulations "prevented a timely reduction in capacity."

North American carriers are expected to post losses of $2.6 billion, more than double the previously forecast loss of $1 billion. Their cuts in capacity matched the slump in demand, but recovery in travel is being held back by high unemployment and the prolonged economic slump, IATA says.

Asia-Pacific carriers will post losses of $3.6 billion. Latin American carriers are expected to break even, while Middle East airlines will likely see losses of $500 million.

IATA expects losses to continue into 2010, with the industry expected to report a $3.8 billion net loss next year.