World airline industry seen back in black in 2011

Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:19pm EDT

* Revenue gap seen made up in two years -IATA

* North America, Europe lagging industry recovery

SANTIAGO, March 24 (Reuters) - The world's airlines should post a combined profit in 2011, after an expected loss of about $2.8 billion in 2010, the head of airline industry body IATA said on Wednesday.

A shortfall in global air carriers' revenues from their peak in 2008 should be made up within two years, IATA Director-General Giovanni Bisignani told a news conference at the FIDAE air industry fair.

"With a loss of $2.8 billion this year, I think we can say with a reasonable degree of certainty that we will be back in the black in 2011," Bisignani said. He said the body would issue its forecast of 2011 industry results in June.

A gap of nearly $80 billion in annual revenues lost since a 2008 peak would be made up within two years, he said.

IATA forecasts industry revenues of $522 billion for 2010, which is still $42 billion shy of 2008 levels.

"We have an (expected) improvement this year of $43 billion (over 2009 levels), so we suppose that in two years we will recover the loss," Bisignani said.

He expects airlines in North America to post a combined loss of about $1.8 billion in 2010, and sees European airlines losing a total of $2.2 billion.

However, Latin American airlines will post a combined profit of about $800 million this year, he forecast. Bisignani expects air traffic demand in Latin America to rise 12.2 percent in 2010 from 2009 levels.

IATA groups about 230 airlines, including Air China (601111.SS), Lufthansa (LHAG.DE), Singapore Airlines (SIAL.SI) and Skywest (SKYW.O). (Reporting by Simon Gardner and Antonio de la Jara; Editing by Gary Hill)