It’s been an interesting year, to say the least. The airlines continued to cut capacity, and some ground handling companies ceased operations at certain locations they found were no longer viable. In fact, it seemed the entire industry felt strong effects from the recession.
The latest IATA financial forecast released in September stated the industry would lose about $11 billion in 2009. The good news: Certain figures released through the year suggested that previously plummeting demand had stabilized.
The most recent traffic figures released by the airlines for the month of November showed some mixed results compared to last year’s figures. Quite a few carriers reported increases. Southwest Airlines reported a 10.8-percent increase in passengers, and United Airlines reported a 1.4-percent increase in passengers from the previous year. JetBlue Airways recorded a passenger increase of 7.7 percent, while Continental Airlines’ traffic rose 2.9 percent. American Eagle also recorded an increase of 11.7 percent.
But some airlines did not report an increase in passengers. American Airlines and US Airways reported a decrease in passengers of about 0.5 percent. Delta Air Lines traffic fell 7.1 percent — the largest drop among U.S. carriers.
With a mix of good and bad reports, the industry will likely grapple with the economy well into next year. Early projections by IATA for 2010 are a loss of about $3.8 billion.
So the good news is relative.
Moving into 2010
An area that has experienced significant progress is alternative technology. Manufacturers have continued to introduce new products that have served the goal of lowering emissions.
In the area of alternative technology, electric continued to be in the forefront. Efforts to improve electric equipment have continued and likely will continue to be a focus next year.
This year has seen a significant growth in the spirit of cooperation between different partners in aviation. And likely that spirit will be fostered further next year, especially between airports and airlines that work toward common goals.
This issue’s cover story is yet another example of a cooperative airline-airport relationship, as the Massachusetts Port Authority and Delta Air Lines worked toward acquiring electric equipment at Boston Logan.
The industry will continue to find innovative ways to combat the current state of the economy and achieve progress — and perhaps that’s the best news of all.
Happy New Year,