India’s airlines face huge losses due to fuel prices: govt

NEW DELHI, June 4, 2008 (AFP) – India’s airlines suffered a combined loss of nearly a billion dollars in the past financial year and the figure could double this year if fuel prices keep rising, a government official said on Wednesday. The firms suffered a total loss of around 40 billion rupees (937.6 billion dollars) in the fiscal year to March 2008 due to the surge in fuel costs, Civil Aviation Secretary Ashok Chawla said.

“Oil prices are at an all-time high and airline operators are finding it difficult to make both ends meet,” Chawla told reporters after a meeting with airline operators in New Delhi.

“There are substantial losses being reported by the airlines,” he said.

Chawla’s forecast came after the International Air Transport Association (IATA), warned the world?s airlines earlier this week of a combined loss of 2.3 billion dollars this year if oil prices average 107 dollars a barrel and 6.1 billion dollars if oil stayed around 135 dollars for the rest of 2008.

Last weekend India’s state-run oil companies raised the prices of aviation turbine fuel, or ATF, by 18.5 percent to reduce huge losses spurred by record global fuel prices.

Jet Airways, India’s biggest domestic carrier, Kingfisher Airlines, and