CORRECTED - UPDATE 1-IATA sees sharp rebound by global airlines this year

Tue Sep 21, 2010 8:04am EDT

(Corrects name in first para to International Air Transport Association, not International Air Travel Association)

* Sees $8.9 bln net profit in 2010, $5.3 bln in 2011

* Asia-Pacific airlines to be benefit, Europe still in red

* Cyclical upturn in traffic, yields faster than expected

SINGAPORE, Sept 21 (Reuters) - Global airlines are likely to post sharply higher profit in 2010 than previously forecast as the industry rebounds from economic recession, the International Air Transport Association said on Tuesday.

IATA sees the industry posting a combined net profit of $8.9 billion, more than three times the previous forecast of $2.5 billion made in June, and compared to an estimate of nearly $10 billion losses in 2009. "It is a significant improvement, much stronger than forecast," IATA chief executive Giovanni Bisignani told reporters in Singapore. "But I would say it is not time for big celebration, let's just do a nice party."

The trade body warned that increasing capacity due to new aircraft deliveries in 2011 will lead to slower growth for the industry and put pressure on yields and load factors, resulting in a lower net profit of $5.3 billion globally next year.

"The cyclical upturn in traffic and yields has been faster than expected, reflecting the post-recession rebound and tight capacity. However, the durability of this upturn is in increasing doubt in North America and Europe," IATA said in a statement.

IATA said Asia-Pacific airlines were the biggest beneficiaries of a sharp rebound in cargo revenues and it has revised up the profit forecast in this region to $5.2 billion from $2.2 billion.

In contrast, IATA said European airlines are expected to remain in the red although the agency lowered its loss forecast to $1.3 billion from a $2.8 billion loss in the previous estimate.

It was the second revision for global profit by the trade body, which predicted six months ago that the industry would lose $2.8 billion in 2010.

The global economic recession had sent the airline industry into its worst downturn in history, forcing airlines to cut capacity and lay off staff and sent Japan Airlines, Asia's biggest airline by revenue, into bankruptcy protection.

A number of major airlines in Asia, including Singapore Airlines (SIAL.SI) and Cathay Pacific (0293.HK), have however expressed optimism on the outlook of the sector this year. (Reporting by Harry Suhartono, editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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