* June passenger demand up 4.7 pct vs 6.2 pct rise in May
* Capacity rises 5 pct, load factor down 0.2 pp to 81.5 pct
* IATA says Ebola, Russian crisis, conflict could hurt
(Recasts, adds more comment, details on Ebola outbreak, Russia)
By Victoria Bryan
BERLIN, Aug 6 The outbreak of the Ebola virus in
West Africa, conflict in the Middle East and a possible trade
war with Russia could all hurt air travel this year, a leading
industry group said.
"All have the potential to dent demand," Tony Tyler,
Director General of the International Air Transport Association
(IATA), which represents around 240 airlines, said on Wednesday.
"We are optimistic that the industry will still end the year
with an improvement in profitability over 2013. But the regional
impact of some of these risks will challenge some airlines more
than others," Tyler said in a statement.
The Ebola outbreak that began in West Africa in March has
killed 932 people so far and governments and global health
authorities are struggling to stop it spreading.
Tyler said Ebola could be one of the biggest challenges this
year for some airlines, even though the World Health
Organization says the risk to plane passengers from Ebola is low
and has not recommended travel restrictions.
Nevertheless, France, Germany, Greece and the United States
are advising their citizens to avoid travelling to the areas of
West Africa worst hit by the virus.
British Airways has suspended flights to Liberia
and Sierra Leone until the end of month, while Emirates
has suspended flights to Guinea.
Two regional African airlines, Nigeria's Arik and Asky, have
cancelled all flights to Sierra Leone and Liberia.
Africa's airlines are already struggling to fill seats,
with planes on average around two-thirds full, and demand
dropped 2.7 percent in June, IATA data showed on Wednesday.
The industry association put that drop down to economic
factors, such as a slowdown in South Africa.
Brussels Airlines, one of the few still flying to Guinea,
Liberia and Sierra Leone, said staff at airports and on its
planes were equipped with thermo-scanners to check passengers
for signs of fever, one of the main symptoms of the Ebola virus.
Planes are also stocked with special medical kits in the
event of a passenger falling sick on board.
"But we have not seen a drop in demand, nor have we reduced
our flights," a spokeswoman for the airline, part-owned by
The threat of a trade war with Russia was also a growing
threat to air travel this year, IATA said.
Russia has threatened to retaliate for the grounding of a
subsidiary of national airline Aeroflot because of EU
sanctions. One newspaper reported that European flights to Asia
over Siberia could be banned.
Ruxandra Haradau-Doser, an analyst at Kepler Chevreux, said
avoiding Russian airspace could cost Lufthansa, for example,
around 100-150 million euros($134-$200 million) a year.
"There's a high risk we could see more profit warnings in
the industry," she said.
IATA forecasts global airlines will make a combined profit
of $18 billion this year, up from $10.6 billion in 2013.
IATA said passenger traffic demand grew 4.7 percent in June,
down from a 6.2 percent rise in May.
Capacity - the amount of seats offered - rose 5 percent
after a 5.2 percent rise in May. Lufthansa and Air France-KLM
cited overcapacity as one of the reasons for their
recent profit warnings.
(1 US dollar = 0.7491 euro)
(Additional reporting by Sabine Wollrab in Frankfurt; Editing
by Kirsti Knolle and David Clarke)