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Global aviation body predicts better times ahead for airlines


MONTREAL (AP) _ Global airline passenger traffic will stabilize this year before rebounding 4.4 percent next year and 6.3 percent in 2005, according to the Montreal-based International Civil Aviation Organization.

The organization cited a gradual restoration of passenger confidence, improved security and its application, an improving global economy and a stable operating environment as the forces behind its forecast.

``Traffic development of both North American and European carriers is stabilizing, with an expected zero growth in 2003 before recovery gets fully under way in 2004 and 2005,'' the organization said.

International Civil Aviation Organization figures show that the average annual increase in passenger miles performed was 4.7 percent between 1991 and 2001. Passenger traffic fell 2.9 percent in 2001.

A slowing world economy, the Sept. 11 attacks, the war in Iraq and severe acute respiratory syndrome all contributed to an airline industry free-fall, said the organization, which represents some 188 member states.

Dozens of operators have been grounded by creditor protection and consolidation during commercial aviation's darkest period.

Traffic was expected to remain at 1.76 billion passenger miles performed for the second year running in 2003 before rising to 1.86 billion miles next year and 1.98 billion miles in 2005.
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