World airlines continue to ratchet up huge losses as higher fuel prices hurt

City A.M. Reporter
THE WORLD&rsquo;S airlines are being squeezed even as the global economy recovers, with higher oil and jet fuel prices causing added pain, an industry group said yesterday.<br /><br />Net losses continued to expand in the second quarter of 2009, reaching at least $6 bn (&pound;3.7bn) for the first half of the year, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said.<br /><br />In its latest financial monitor, it said the second quarter of 2009 involved &ldquo;further deterioration&rdquo; for airlines&rsquo; bottom lines. This year second quarter losses of $2 bn follow first quarter losses of $4 bn,&rdquo; IATA said in a statement. &ldquo;Total industry losses in the first half of 2009 are likely to have been in excess of the reported $6 bn.&rdquo;<br /><br />IATA has previously estimated airlines will lose $9 billion in 2009 after an $8.5 billion loss in 2008, when high oil prices hit profits and then the global credit and financial crisis slashed demand for air travel.<br /><br />The Geneva-based group, whose 230 member airlines fly some 93 percent of international air traffic, also said that signs of economic rebound had pushed up energy prices, with jet fuel prices above $80 a barrel. While air cargo volumes and passenger numbers rose in July, improving from their credit crunch and recession lows, IATA said &ldquo;both remain well below levels seen at the same time last year.&rdquo; The industry&rsquo;s recovery was under way but will be &ldquo;volatile and weak&rdquo;, it said.