Airlines worldwide lost as much as $8 billion last year after a larger-than-expected fourth-quarter decline prompted by the recession and fuel-hedging losses in the period, the International Air Transport Assn. said.
The loss was wider than the $5-billion deficit estimated by the association in December because of an unanticipated $4-billion deficit in the last quarter, it said. The association had forecast a 2009 industry loss of $2.5 billion in December.
The 2008 figures come as signs mount that this year may be worse than originally forecast.
The association had predicted at the end of 2008 that international airline passenger traffic would be about 3% lower in 2009.
Last month the group said traffic fell 5.6% in January, the fifth straight monthly decline, led by Asian carriers.