Global airlines raise profit outlook, focus on emissions

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 05, 2017 10:53 AM

CANCUN, Mexico (Reuters) - Global airlines raised their 2017 profit forecast for the industry on Monday and heard pleas to stand by a pledge to curb emissions, despite a U.S. decision to exit the separate Paris climate pact.

The International Air Transport Association, which represents more than 200 airlines, said it expected the industry to generate a $31.4 billion profit this year, up from a previous forecast of $29.8 billion.

The IATA also raised its outlook for 2017 industry revenue to $743 billion from $736 billion on expectations that travel demand will increase as the global economy looks set to post its strongest growth in six years.

The forecast underscored a new golden age for airlines' profitability even as carriers scramble to meet fast-changing electronics restrictions, pressure to limit emissions and unprecedented scrutiny on social media over their every mistake.

A United Nations representative urged airline leaders at IATA's annual meeting in Mexico to stand by an industry emissions accord known as CORSIA even as U.S. President Donald Trump breaks with a climate pact struck in Paris last year.

"We need to promote implementation of this historic agreement," said Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, president of the International Civil Aviation Organization.

IATA Director General Alexandre de Juniac said the airlines would hold fast to their commitments.

"The very disappointing decision of the U.S. to withdraw from Paris is not a setback for CORSIA," he told the meeting. "We remain united behind CORSIA and our climate change goals."

IATA's opening session began without Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker amid a diplomatic rift among Arab powers threatening to disrupt the national carrier's operations.

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Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain severed their ties with Qatar on Monday, accusing it of supporting terrorism and opening up the worst rift in years among some of the most powerful states in the Arab world.

In the harshest measures, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain's civil aviation bodies banned Qatari planes from landing in their airports and banned them from crossing their airspace.

Qatar Airways could not be reached for comment.

(Reporting by Tim Hepher, Victoria Bryan and Brad Haynes; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)