Airline profitability remains uneven geographically, with carriers in much of the world struggling to earn a profit even as the overall industry continues to generate record revenue and earn robust annual income.

IATA issued its latest 2018 global airline profit forecast June 4 during its AGM in Sydney. The new forecast cuts expected profit by 12% to $33.8 billion, with higher-than-expected fuel prices the main factor. This will still make 2018 one of the industry’s the strongest financial years, with the world’s airlines expected to generate a record $834 billion in revenue.

However, nearly half of the forecast profit will come from the $15 billion North American airlines are projected to earn, while airlines in three regions combined—Africa, Latin America and the Middle East—will earn just over $2 billion this year, according to IATA. African airlines are expected to be in the red collectively in 2018.

“The industry has made great advances in becoming more financially secure, but it’s still pretty uneven,” IATA chief economist Brian Pearce said. “We’re still seeing a lot of that profit generated by North America and parts of Europe and parts of Asia … If you’re an airline based in the [southeast Asia] region, it’s a very different experience than being based in North America.”

Airlines in Asia and Europe are expected to earn collective profits of $8.6 billion and $8.2 billion, respectively, but Pearce pointed out that a few major players in each region account for most of the profitability. Asia, in particular, is “a very mixed region” with a wide divergence in airline financial performance, Pearce said, adding that Asia is the “toughest region competitively.”

Aaron Karp/Aviation Daily, aaron.karp@informa.com