Geneva, Switzerland | THE INDEPENDENT | The International Air Transport Association (IATA) forecasts global industry net profit to rise to $38.4 billion in 2018, an improvement from the $34.5 billion expected net profit in 2017.
Strong demand, efficiency and reduced interest payments will help airlines improve net profitability in 2018 despite rising costs, according to IATA. 2018 is expected to be the fourth consecutive year of sustainable profits with a return on invested capital (9.4%) exceeding the industry’s average cost of capital (7.4%).
“These are good times for the global air transport industry. Safety performance is solid. We have a clear strategy that is delivering results on environmental performance. More people than ever are traveling. The demand for air cargo is at its strongest level in over a decade. Employment is growing. More routes are being opened. Airlines are achieving sustainable levels of profitability. It’s still, however, a tough business, and we are being challenged on the cost front by rising fuel, labor and infrastructure expenses,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
“The industry also faces longer-term challenges. Many of them are in the hands of governments. Aviation is the business of freedom and a catalyst for growth and development. To continue to deliver on our full potential, governments need to raise their game—implementing global standards on security, finding a reasonable level of taxation, delivering smarter regulation and building the cost-efficient infrastructure to accommodate growing demand. The benefits of aviation are compelling—2.7 million direct jobs and critical support for 3.5% of global economic activity. And the industry is ready to partner with governments to reinforce the foundations for global connectivity that are vital to modern life,” said de Juniac.
Zambia and Uganda are looking to revive their national airlines in 2018.
Stronger forecast economic growth in the region is expected to support demand growth of 8.0% in 2018, slightly outpacing the announced capacity expansion of 7.5%.
African carriers are however expected to continue to make small losses of $100 million in 2018 following a collective net loss of $100 million in 2017.
The wider economic situation is only improving slowly in Africa, which is hampering the financial performance of its airlines. The key Nigerian economy is only just out of recession and growth in South Africa remains extremely weak. While traffic is growing, passenger load factors for African airlines are just over 70% which is over 10 percentage points lower than the industry average. With high fixed costs this low utilization makes it very difficult to make a profit. Stronger economic growth will help in 2018, but the continent’s governments need a concerted effort to further liberalize to promote growth of intra-Africa connectivity.
** SOURCE: IATA