Airlines set to incur far higher losses next year

AIRLINE losses caused by the recession will be 47 per cent higher next year than the $3.8bn (£2.3bn) previously forecast by the industry, although passenger numbers are likely to be better than thought.

Carriers will rack up a total shortfall of $5.6bn in 2010, down from the $11bn loss expected in 2009, a revised forecast by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) showed.

Passenger numbers are expected to grow 4.5 per cent in 2010, above the 3.2 per cent forecast in September.

Airlines have hit losses or seen profits slashed during the downturn as consumers and businesses shun air travel to save cash.

Geneva-based IATA’s director general, Giovanni Bisignani, said airlines would stay firmly in the red next year after a 2009 he described as an “annus horribilis” for the industry.

Bisignani voiced optimism, saying some key numbers in 2010 were moving in the right direction.