Soaring Fuel Prices Pressure Airlines to Curb Unneeded Flying Time

GENEVA (AP) -- Soaring fuel prices are increasing the need for greater efficiency in air traffic control to curb any unnecessary flying time, the International Air Transport Association said.

''With oil in the US$70 per barrel (Brent) range, every drop of unneeded fuel burn and every cent of unnecessary expense is simply not tolerable,'' said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA's Director General and CEO, in a statement Thursday.

He said more efficient air traffic control such as the proposed ''Single European Sky'' would benefit both the industry and the environment by making flights more direct and reducing holding patterns before landing.

''If we could save just one minute on every flight, industry savings of up to US$4 billion (euro3.23 billion) are possible and the environment would benefit from a reduction of 10 million tons in emissions,'' Bisignani said.

The industry organization said airlines have been able to offset some of the added expenses because they have had an increase in the number of passengers this summer and are imposing fuel surcharges.

''Globally four out of every five seats were filled in July with every region reporting load factors in excess of 70 percent,'' said IATA.

It said its latest statistics showed 8.8 percent growth in passenger traffic and 3.5 percent growth in freight for January through July.

IATA noted that in May it forecast industry losses of US$6 billion based on the assumption of an average oil price of US$47 per barrel of Brent crude. Brent was trading Friday at about US$67.45 a barrel.

''Escalating fuel prices in recent weeks have brought the year-to-date average price per barrel to US$53 (euro42.78),'' it said.

Bisignani said every dollar added to the price of oil adds US$1 billion (euro810 million) to airline industry costs.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press