Airlines can breathe again – bottom of their recession may be in sight

There is no doubt that 2009 is a year that most airlines will want to put behind them as fast as they can.

In essence, it was the perfect storm combining everything that airlines hate.

A report published back in May told the doom and gloom story about airline profits – and that not a single airline in the world would earn anything this year.

As the first very small signs of economic recovery begin to show, airlines are starting to be a tad more optimistic, and are even projecting a growth in passenger traffic for 2010. In 2009, traffic was down 2%, but 2010 could bring a 4.9% rise, which is obviously just what the airlines need to stay alive.

Total losses between all the world’s airlines is $9 billion, which really doesn’t seem like that much in this new economy. Still, it’ll be at least 6 months till the airlines will know whether the worst really is over, especially as the busy summer travel months come to an end and passenger numbers drop. The real indicators will be business travel and freight – neither of which have recovered yet.

Once everything returns back to normal, we’ll emerge battered and bruised with lower airfares, higher (and newer) fees, a couple less airlines and some airlines that have removed premium seats. None of the major carriers vanished, but most of them did cut their workforce substantially.