IATA forecasts 800m rise in air passengers


Airlines will see their earnings dramatically reduced in 2011, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has predicted.

British Airways aircraft parked at Heathrow

Flight plan: IATA says there is growing appetite for air travel in emerging countries

High fuel costs mean carriers are expected to earn £5.7bn in 2011 compared to £9.4bn last year.

IATA also said growth in appetite for air travel in emerging economies will increase global air traffic by 30%, or 800m passengers, compared to the 2.5bn who took to the skies in 2009.

China will contribute nearly half of the new air travellers, IATA said, but the US will remain the largest market with 215m passengers per year by 2014, while Britain will hold on to second place with a predicted 198m.

But IATA director general Giovanni Bisignani said growth rates in Europe would be slowed by 'lingering consumer debt, high unemployment and austerity measures'.

The prediction came as Gatwick airport reported a 12% increase in January traffic figures as it enjoyed a favourable comparison with last year's snowbound January.