Boyd issues bleak industry forecast for 2009 and 2010

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US consultancy Boyd Group International today issued a bleak forecast for the US airline industry, saying 41 million fewer passengers will fly commercially in 2009 versus 2008, and that the decline will continue through 2010.

Passenger levels in the US may not again reach last year's levels until after 2014, according to Boyd's latest research, which considers a range of "reasonably-potential" dynamics.

"Our model assumes a return to economic stability in 2011," says Boyd Group International president Michael Boyd. "But in the meantime, there will be significant contractions in revenue streams in several areas of aviation. Using 2008 as a baseline, the decline in passengers expected through 2011 represents massive declines in aviation revenues."

One wild card factor that will materially affect the forecast is consumer confidence.

"There is no guarantee that the recession will not result in demand suddenly plunging," the report warns. "If consumers really get spooked about spending, all bets are off. Air travel demand could fall off a cliff in the first quarter of 2009."