Massive losses forecast for European airlines

The global aviation trade group nearly doubled its forecast of European airlines’ losses this year to $1.1 billion and said Monday the worldwide industry will scrape by with wafer thin profit margins due to high fuel prices.

U.S. and Asian carriers should make money this year, but more airlines in Europe might follow Hungary’s Malev into bankruptcy if the European financial crisis worsens, the International Air Transport Association said.

Global aviation should make a total profit this year of $3 billion on revenue of $631 billion — a 0.5 percent margin, IATA said. The group represents 240 airlines that carry 84 percent of passengers and cargo worldwide but its forecast covers the whole industry.

Europe debt crisis pushes down oil prices

Oil fell Monday on the realization that a short-term fix in Spain won’t offer a long-term solution to Europe’s debt crisis. A multi-billion dollar bailout loan for Spain’s banks generated initial enthusiasm in the global stock, bond and energy markets. But by the close in New York, the good feeling had given way to skepticism. Benchmark oil fell $1.40 to $82.70 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price international varieties of oil, dropped $1.47 to $98 per barrel in London. The broad S&P 500 stock index fell 1.3 percent.

Investors purchase newspaper group

Freedom Communications Inc., the owner of The Orange County Register and six other daily newspapers, is being sold to an investment group that had earlier tried to purchase The Boston Globe. The sale to 2100 Trust LLC represents the last of six pieces of Freedom that have been sold since it emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May 2010. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Chrysler expands Jeep Liberty recall

Chrysler has added more than 137,000 Jeep Liberty SUVs to a March safety recall, bringing the total number of vehicles affected to nearly 347,000. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said the lower control arms in the rear suspensions of the Libertys can rust and break, possibly causing them to crash. However, the company says it knows of no crashes or injuries from the problem. The recall involves vehicles in states where salt is used to clear ice and snow from the roads. Chrysler said Monday that it will inspect the parts and replace them for free if needed.

Average gas price drops 12 cents in state

The AAA auto club reports the average price of a gallon of gasoline in Washington is $4.16. That’s down 12 cents in a week and back to where it was a month ago. It’s 62 cents higher than the national average. Some metro prices from the AAA survey for Monday: Bellingham $4.31, Bremerton $4.13, Seattle-Bellevue-Everett $4.22, Tacoma $4.14, Olympia $4.15, Vancouver $4.12, Yakima $4.17, Tri-Cities $4.09, Spokane $3.93.

From Herald news services