Air Carriers Expect Growth

British Airways’ fiscal third quarter showed substantial gains over the prior year while its nine-month net earnings through Dec. 31, 2003 declined 42.4% compared with the prior-year period. The airline cited the Iraq war and SARS outbreak as significant factors in the decline. Net earnings were $219.1 million for 2003 vs. $380.6 million for the same nine months in 2002.

The Association of European Airlines reported its 31 member carriers expected to post gains of 7.5% in passenger traffic for 2004, including increases of 14% to the Far East, 6% in Europe and on the North Atlantic. Association Secretary General Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus cautioned that 2004 results appear inflated by two major downturns that occurred in 2003. The true growth trend with external effects removed stand at 2.5% to 2.8% growth in Europe and to the Far East and 4.8% on the North Atlantic.

The 10 major U.S. passenger airlines reported a collective loss of $5.49 billion in 2003, half the $10.99 billion loss of 2002. The results include the effects of $2.11 billion in federal security fees and taxes rebated to the industry during the second quarter.

For the first time since 2000, annual revenues actually rose in 2003, up 1.1% over 2002 to $81.8 billion but well below the $97.7 billion generated in 2000.

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