Half Empty

TOKYO, Aug 31, 2006 (AFP) – The global airline industry is expected to almost halve its losses in 2006 thanks to buoyant economic growth and deep cost cuts, the world’s top airline association said Thursday. The industry is now expected to lose 1.7 billion dollars in 2006, much less than the 3.0 billion loss previously feared and well below the 3.2 billion dollars’ worth of red ink seen in 2005, the International Air Transport Association said.

“With an average price of oil at 68 dollars (per barrel) for the year we expect the total fuel bill to be 115 billion dollars but losses will be cut to 1.7 billion dollars,” IATA director general Giovanni Bisignani told reporters in Tokyo.

He attributed the improvement to “efficiency, hard work and a strong revenue environment. “Overall, the industry has never been so lean, mean and well poised to return to profitability,” he added.