IATA’s revised forecast sees revenues declining an unprecedented 15% from 528 billion dollars in 2008 to 448 billion dollars in 2009.

“There is no modern precedent for today’s economic meltdown. Our future depends on a drastic reshaping by partners, governments and industry”, said said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General.

The global downturn has affected the first-class airline traffic, as premium passengers have shifted focus to low-cost solutions, which led to major losses for British Airways or Pacific Airways Ltd. Meanwhile, China Eastern Airlines and Shanghai Airlines plan to merge in an effort to reduce competition in one of the largest aviation industry in the world and also to get them back on profit.

Passenger demand is expected to contract by 8% and air cargo demand by 17%, IATA said. The group said on March 24 that the airline loss would hit 4.7 billion dollars in 2009.

North American carriers are expected to show a loss of 1.0 billion dollars compared to prior estimates of 100 million dollars. Airline carriers in other regions will not return any profits, as Asia-Pacific carriers will post the largest losses at 3.3 billion dollars. European carriers are expected to post losses of 1.8 billion losses.