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Global airlines losses could top $10 billion

By Lisa Barron
CNN Financial Correspondent

HONG KONG (CNN) -- The global airline industry thinks its losses this year following the suicide hijack attacks on the United States could be three times worse than expected.

Pierre Jeanniot, head of the International Air Transport Association, predicted it could take the industry a full year to bounce back.

"It will be the worst loss for many years. We estimate on the international scene about $7.5 billion in losses. We had previously forecasted about $2.5 billion. If you add to that what the U.S. carriers are estimating, about $5 billion, we could be over $10 billion. So that would be the worst year ever, I'm afraid," Jeanniot said.

This comes as Asia's regional airlines struggle to cope with the downturn in traffic, coupled with soaring insurance rates and security costs.

Just in the past week: Singapore Airlines announced salary cuts for management. Air New Zealand, which was rescued by the government last month, will cut its flights by 10 percent. Australia's Qantas Airlines is trimming its executive staff by 10 percent and cutting daily U.S. service.

The IATA director does not think the U.S. attacks on Afghanistan will do any additional harm to the industry, although Asian airlines like Singapore, Cathay and Thai Airways have suspended flights to Pakistan for the time being.

Regional travel agencies are also reporting massive cancellations to the Middle East, the Philippines and Indonesia.


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