• Airline industry suffers

The airline industry has been hit more than twice as hard in this recession than after 9-11, according to the International Air Transport Association.

And as airline sales volumes are a pretty good proxy for the hotel industry, this gives a worryingly bleak perspective on the damage currently being wrought by the current downturn.

IATA this week revised its financial forecast for 2009 for the airline industry, predicting a loss of $9bn. This is nearly double the $4.7bn forecast only in March.

Of most relevance to hoteliers is the 15% cut in revenues – about $80bn – that is forecast to occur. Following September 11, 2001, the drop was 7%.

"There is no modern precedent for today's economic meltdown. The ground has shifted. Our industry has been shaken. This is the most difficult situation that the industry has faced," said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA's director general and CEO this week.

Fortunately for hoteliers, the biggest hit is with cargo, down 17%. Nonetheless, passenger demand is expected to contract by 8% with 2.06 billion travellers in 2009 compared with 2.24 billion in 2009.

The worst outcome for hoteliers, at least in the short-term, is large capacity cuts. Certain destinations have already suffered, notably Hawaii in the US.

Capacity cuts benefit airlines by enabling them to maintain prices but for hotels it means there is less of the overall travel budget to go around.

But the airline industry is still expecting to take delivery of more than 800 new jets with more than 120 seats each this year. This should help keep ticket prices affordable for travellers.

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