Photo: everestevents.co.ukReading Time: 2 minutes
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) forecasts the global airline industry net profit to be $35.5 billion in 2019, slightly ahead of the $32.3 billion expected net profit in 2018 (revised down from $33.8 billion forecast in June).
- Lower oil prices and solid, albeit slower, economic growth (+3.1%) are extending the run of profits for the global airline industry, after profitability was squeezed by rising costs in 2018.
- It is expected that 2019 will be the tenth year of profit and the fifth consecutive year where airlines deliver a return on capital that exceeds the industry’s cost of capital, creating value for its investors.
Performance Drivers in 2019
- Economic Growth: GDP is forecast to expand by 3.1% in 2019 (marginally below the 3.2% expansion in 2018). This slower but still robust growth is a main driver of continued solid profitability.
- Fuel Costs: The 2019 industry outlook is based on an anticipated average oil price of $65/barrel (Brent) which is lower than the $73/barrel (Brent) experienced in 2018, following the increase in US oil output and rising oil inventories. Nonetheless, jet fuel prices are expected to average $81.3/barrel in 2019, lower than the $87.6/barrel average for 2018).
- Labor: Total employment by airlines is expected to reach 2.9 million in 2019, up 2.2% on 2018. Wages are also rising, reflecting the tightness of labor markets, and it is expected that unit labor costs will increase by 2.1% in 2019 after a long period of stability.
- Passenger: Passenger traffic (RPKs) is expected to grow 6% in 2019, which will outpace the forecast capacity (ASKs) increase of 5.8%, and remains above the 20-year trend growth rate.
- Cargo: Cargo yields are expected to grow by 2.0%. This is well below the exceptional 10% yield growth in 2018. It does, however, continue the recent strengthening of the cargo business, since cost increases are lower. Overall cargo revenues are expected to reach $116.1 billion (up from $109.8 billion in 2018).
- All regions, except Africa, are expected to report profits in 2018 and 2019.
- Carriers in North America continue to lead on financial performance, accounting for nearly half of the industry’s total profits.
- Financial performance is expected to improve compared to 2018 in all regions except for Europe, where improvement has been delayed by the high degree of fuel hedging.