Airlines Panic as Recession Grounds Passengers

Falling price of oil fails to make up for slump in demand
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 10, 2009 7:04 AM CDT
Analysts expect American Airlines and United Airlines, hit hard by falling demand, will now lose money in 2009 despite cost-cutting measures.   (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, file)
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(Newser) – A steep slide in passengers has airline execs reaching for the panic button, reports the Wall Street Journal. Airlines had banked on the drastic drop in oil prices more than making up for falling demand caused by the recession, but the decline—especially in first and business class—has been much steeper than expected, trashing airline revenue plans for the year.

"With job losses accelerating in January and consumer confidence falling further it looks as though even larger declines in air travel should be expected," the International Air Travel Association warned last month. Airlines are scrambling to fill seats through fare sales but analysts expect they will have to further cut capacity if they are to have any hope of finishing 2009 in the black.