Friday, 1 April 2011

Adopting the brace position

Full article in PDF format

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), the airline industry’s main trade body, has never been shy about talking up the perils of an oil shock. Even in May 2005, when a barrel of Brent Crude set you back just $50, IATA was calling jet fuel "The Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse".

But with Middle East unrest now pushing oil prices to double that level, the group's latest warning has touched a nerve with airline bosses. The last time crude passed the $100-mark the world was tumbling into its deepest recession for decades, and few industries hit the ground harder than civil aviation.

In 2009, as global financial markets began pulling themselves back from the abyss, air traffic was still falling at its fastest rate since records began. Cash-strapped holidaymakers were opting for staycations; business travellers were downgrading to Economy; and stunted economic activity was choking off demand for cargo. All told, the industry lost $9.4 billion...