Global airlines are set to lose $3 billion in 2006, barely recovering from $3.2 billion of losses in 2005 as they contend with rising fuel bills, industry lobby group IATA said last week.

IATA, which represents 261 airlines handling 94% of the world's scheduled air traffic, had previously forecast $2.2 billion of combined losses in 2006. But oil prices have hit new peaks while the dollar's decline also hurts many airlines.

IATA issued the figures before its annual meeting in Paris on Monday and Tuesday.

The revised forecast of average global losses comes despite expectations of a fourth consecutive increase in annual revenues as tourism recovers from a steep recession early this decade.

Fuel is expected to make up 26% of airlines' average costs in 2006 compared with 22% last year.

In order to make money, airlines need on average to fill 63.3% of their available capacity by weight in 2006, but are only expected to manage 62.4%, IATA said.

Source: Reuters