SAN JOSE (KCBS) – At first blush, it appeared there was some good news about the airline industry. Some carriers were hanging help wanted signs and adding flights.

One industry analyst, however, warned that the carriers were anything but flying high.

KCBS’ Margie Shafer Reports:

Several major carriers announced plans to hire flight attendants in 2011.

“Most of this is attrition,” explained Michael Boyd, president of Boyd Group International, an aviation consulting firm. “You have a lot of retirements. The airline industry is not in a major growth mode in 2010 or 2011.”

He cautioned against describing it as a hiring spree.

“The reality is we still have almost 10% unemployment, 17% underemployment, there’s a limit to how fast airlines can grow in a situation like that,” said Boyd. “It’s the economy, it’s the economy that’s going to drive it all.”

In short, Boyd said the airline industry would struggle as long as the nation’s economy struggled.

“Don’t look at this as being good days are here again for the airline industry. Stable days are here, but not great days,” he warned. “Less than 2% growth year over year for 2010, and we actually show almost no growth, based on the economy, for 2011. This is a bubble, don’t take it as a trend.”

At Mineta San Jose International Airport, Alaska Airlines added thrice-weekly service to Cabo San Lucas last weekend, and planned to add a flight to Guadalajara later this month.

“There’s a lot of opportunity that took place when Mexicana collapsed. And Alaska is filling in some of that, but really it’s to fill a gap in what Mexicana was carrying, not necessarily growth in the marketplace,” pointed out Boyd.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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