Despite one of the most difficult financial periods in commercial aviation history, US airlines made measurable progress, base on operational statistics and financial results for calendar year 2008, says the Air Transport Association of America (ATA). The imperative for continuous improvement is more pressing than ever, said ATA. The deployment of a modern air traffic management system would enable higher domestic productivity, greater efficiency and customer service, better environmental performance and improvements to an already remarkable culture of safety.
“As America invests in and plans for its future, air transportation must be recognized as a national priority and a driver of economic activity,” said ATA President and CEO James C. May. “We are calling on all Americans and, in particular, our colleagues in government, to join us now in using the forces of evolution to deliver a new vision for moving America.”
The report notes, Annually, commercial aviation helps drive $1.1 trillion in US economic activity and more than 10 million US jobs. Daily, US airlines operate nearly 28,000 flights in 80 countries, using more than 6,000 aircraft to carry an average of two million passengers and 50,000 tons of cargo.
Though industry operating revenues grew a healthy $11 billion in 2008, operating expenses surged $24 billion, swinging the industry’s operating income into the red, said ATA. From 2001 through 2008, US passenger and cargo airlines reported cumulative net losses of more than $55 billion.
Flying operations, which constituted 42% of industry costs, increased 27% on a $16 billion year-over-year spike in fuel expenses to $58 billion in 2008. US airlines have improved their fuel efficiency by more than 120% over the past three decades, ATA added.
Cargo transport accounted for 16% of total industry revenues and generated $5.3 billion more sales than in 2008, reaching an all-time high of $30 billion, said ATA.