Airline industry profits soar 11 percent in 2017

What airlines make out of each passenger

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That's according to an annual tally released Tuesday by the International Air Transport Association, which shows 169 passengers were physically restrained a year ago, up from 113 in 2015. Berthe said a single air transport market is one of the goals of AU's Agenda 2063, aiming to integrate the continent through increased connectivity to boost intra-Africa trade.

IATA's director general and chief executive Alexandre de Juniac said these were good times for the air transport industry.

"We urge African governments to continue prioritising aviation as an economic enabler", the official said in a statement in Geneva, Switzerland. The demand for air cargo is at its strongest level in over a decade.

Although passenger numbers are on the rise, to hit 4.3 billion next year, with passenger business revenues set to grow 9.2% to USD581 billion, IATA warned that rising costs overall, notably on higher fuel prices, will pose the biggest challenge to profitability in 2018. Volumes are expected to grow by 4.5 per cent in 2018 (down from the 9.3 per cent growth of 2017). However, the combination of low utilisation and high fixed costs make it hard for airlines to make a profit, according to IATA.

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IATA said revenue passenger kilometres (RPK), a measure of demand, was forecast to grow six per cent in 2018.

Overall, reported incidents declined almost 10 percent in 2016 to 9,837, but the number viewed as higher risk rose from the previous year, the association said.

Oil prices are expected to average US$60/barrel for Brent crude in 2018 (up 10.7 per cent from $54.2 a barrel this year).

"Airlines with low levels of hedging (in the U.S. and China for example) are likely to feel the impact of this increase more immediately than those with higher average hedging ratios (Europe)", IATA said.

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The cargo business continued to benefit from a strong cyclical upturn in volumes, with some recovery in yields.

Staff wages are also on the rise, with labor costs likely to comprise 30.9 per cent of all airline costs in 2018, making it a larger component than fuel.

Strong demand, efficiency and reduced interest payments will help airlines improve net profitability next year, despite rising costs.

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