IATA: Timing of swine flu outbreak bad for airlines

IATA: Timing of swine flu outbreak bad for airlinesGeneva - The timing of the swine flu outbreak, along with an economic crisis that was pounding the airline industry "could not be worse," the head of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said Tuesday. "It is still too early to judge what the impact of swine flu will have on the bottom line. But it is sure that anything that shakes the confidence of passengers has a negative impact on the business," Giovanni Bisignani said.

"And the timing could not be worse given all of the other economic problems airlines are facing," he added.

He made the remarks along with the release of the latest airline data, which showed that March was another bad month for the industry.

"The global economic crisis continues to reduce demand for international air travel," Bisignani said.

Year-on-year, March saw a 9 per cent drop in passenger travel.

North American carriers experienced a 13.4 per cent decline in international passenger demand, in line with rising unemployment and a general trend of belt tightening. In Europe the drop was 11.6 per cent.

Middle Eastern carriers were the only ones to experience growth in March, with a 4.7 per cent rise.

Cargo has stabilized in recent months but was holding at 21 per cent less demand year-on-year.(dpa)