After falling for two years, world passenger traffic should recover strongly in 2003, according to the International Air Transport Association.

Total international scheduled passenger traffic fell by 2.5% in 2002, but will rise by 6.4% in 2003 and an average 3.3% thereafter, says IATA chief executive Giovanni Bisignani. But he warned that a war in the Gulf could see two more years of losses for the industry, which lost $13 billion overall in 2002. The overall picture, including domestic travel, could be worse still – IATA has not produced forecasts for the US domestic market, which suffered worst from the 11 September attacks, falling 9.5% in 2001.

"If nothing happens on the international scene and there are no major events, we will start seeing some small profits in 2004," he forecasts. However, a war in Iraq, whether or not it produced further terrorist attacks on aviation, would bring renewed fear of flying and higher spending on security, which would put off profits until 2005 at the earliest.

Source: Flight International