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Slow demand and rising fuel costs are likely to hit European carriers next year, Antonio Vazquez warned.
Speaking at an air industry event in Madrid, the chairman of International Airlines Group (IAG) said carriers could expect another tough year in 2012.
"Demand is weak, profitability is falling, it will be another difficult year," Vazquez said, the news agency Reuters reported.
The chairman of IAG, formed after the merger of BA and Iberia, said the industry would also be hit by the inclusion of aviation in the EU’s controversial Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).
He told attendees: "Climate change is a priority for us, and we are not against including airlines in emission rights schemes. But this European programme will hit earnings."
The International Air Transport Association (IATA), the global airline cartel, has predicted that profits in the industry will fall to $300m in 2012 from $1.4bn this year.
The IATA price fuel monitor has shown a 36.2% rise in prices in the last 12 months.
IAG is due to release its passenger figures for September next week.
Figures for August, released earlier this month, showed a 1.4% growth in economy travel and an 8.7% leap in premium traffic