Airlines Bounce Back From $10B Loss In 2009 After a dismal 2009, this year is looking a little better for the airline industry. A new financial forecast out Tuesday shows airline profits are expected to be up significantly from last year.

Airlines Bounce Back From 2009's $10 Billion Loss

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STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

NPR's Kathy Lohr has more.

KATHY LOHR: The International Air Transport Association says, globally, airlines had expected profits of $2.5 billion this year. But now the international trade group, known as IATA, says profits should reach nearly $9 billion.

STEVE LOTT: In 2010, the industry recovery has been stronger and faster than anyone predicted, but we think that a reality check is in order and it's not quite time to celebrate.

LOHR: Steve Lott is with IATA which represents more than 200 airlines. He says the industry is bouncing back from a nearly $10 billion loss last year. Next year, Lott says, things will continue get better - but gradually.

LOTT: People are still concerned about the economy. They're still concerned about the high unemployment rate. And if leisure travelers are worried about their jobs, they're not going to run out and buy four tickets for a vacation that's in an exotic location around the world. Consumers are still going to be careful in how they spend their travel funds.

LOHR: But here at the baggage claim at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, the world's busiest, most people say they're flying the no frills way.

RICK GROSZKIEWICZ: I'm more interested in the bottom line than flying first class, so I'll take the cheap seats.

LOHR: Rick Groszkiewicz runs his own pension actuarial company and takes several trips a year for business and pleasure. He says he can see why airlines are doing better because planes are packed.

GROSZKIEWICZ: We don't hear the stories we used to about the airlines, you know, potentially going bankrupt or all those other things that we heard like two or three years ago. So they seemed to have figured out how to survive.

LOHR: A corporate bank trainer from Raleigh North Carolina, Angela Pullen flies almost every week, but she says never in the premium seats.

ANGELA PULLEN: I always look for bargains when I travel so I'll try to save my company as much money as possible.

LOHR: Garrett Townsend, with AAA Auto Club South, says more people are flying for leisure; sales are up significantly - 20 percent from last year.

GARRETT TOWNSEND: And a lot of it we feel is just some of the pent-up demand from 2009. You know, to say that we're going get back to sort of the heydays of travel, so to speak, we're not necessarily there yet, but we are happy to see there's an upward trend.

LOHR: Kathy Lohr, NPR News, Atlanta.

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