Page last updated at 10:04 GMT, Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Airlines 'to lose $5bn in 2008'

A plane
IATA predicts passenger traffic in 2009 will fall for the first time since 2001

The global air industry is set to lose $5bn (3.32bn) in 2008 and $2.5bn next year because of the global economic downturn, an industry body has said.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) had forecast bigger losses, but revised the figures down because of lower oil prices.

"We face the worst revenue environment in 50 years," said IATA director general Giovanni Bisignani.

IATA expects North America to be the only profitable region in 2009.

Mr Bisignani said that US airlines would benefit from cheaper fuel and cutbacks they had made this year.

The organisation thinks that passenger traffic will fall for the first time since 2001, dropping by 3% in 2009 compared with 2% growth in 2008.

Air cargo traffic is expected to continue its decline.

"The outlook is bleak. The chronic industry crisis will continue into 2009," said Mr Bisignani.

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