Editor in chief:
CLARA MOSCHINI

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IATA (3). Solid profits despite rising costs

Outlook drivers

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced its expectation for airlines to achieve a collective net profit of $33.8 billion (4.1% net margin) in 2018. This is a solid performance despite rising costs, primarily fuel and labor, but also the upturn in the interest rate cycle. These rising costs are the main driver behind the downward revision from the previous forecast of $38.4 billion in December 2017.

In 2017 airlines earned a record $38.0 billion (revised from the previously estimate of $34.5 billion). Comparisons to this, however, are severely distorted by special accounting items such as one-off tax credits which boosted 2017 profits.

Profits at the operating level, though still high by past standards, have been trending slowly downwards since early 2016, as a result of accelerating costs.

In 2018, the return on invested capital is expected to be 8.5% (down from 9% in 2017). This still exceeds the average cost of capital, which has risen to 7.7% on higher bond yields (7.1% in 2017). This is critical for attracting the substantial capital needed by the industry to expand its fleet and services.

Outlook Drivers

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