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Aviation faces biggest crisis in history

Aviation faces biggest crisis in history

A three-day aviation industry conference opened Wednesday in Paris with some executives warning that the battered business is not likely to see brighter fortunes until 2010 _ at the earliest.
The World Air Transport Forum, uniting a variety of industry players, began as airlines are battling volatile fuel prices, tighter credit conditions and diminishing passenger traffic amid the global economic slowdown.
"We are facing probably the worst crisis our industry has ever faced," said Yanik Hoyles, British Airways' general manager for Europe.
Some say it could worsen if recessions break out in North America and Europe, as expected.
Steve Ridgway, chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, said 2009 will be the "real telling year."
"We are not anticipating any kind of pickup until the summer of 2010 but who knows? It may not even be then," he said.
The outlook has changed dramatically since last year's World Air Transport Forum when the industry expected to make a profit of at least $5.2 billion in 2008, said Pierre Jeanniot, the conference chair.
Now the International Air Transport Association is forecasting airline losses may exceed $5.2 billion this year.
The industry "is flying through the most threatening skies it has ever encountered and the storm is not over," said Jeanniot, a former CEO of Air Canada.
Traffic declined 2.9 percent in September from a year earlier, the first time since Asia's outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome in 2003 that global passenger traffic has shrunk, according to IATA.
A recent easing of global oil prices has brought relief to airlines but executives expressed fears that prices could be pushed back up. Oil prices have fallen by about 57 percent since peaking near $150 a barrel in mid-July.
Jeffrey Shane, a former U.S. Transportation undersecretary, said the crisis may require regulators to rethink rules prohibiting foreign ownership of national airlines and limiting slot availability at airports.


Updated : 2021-10-17 05:12 GMT+08:00