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Airline news: NY slot auction on hold, 2009 worldwide losses, and more

Some days, news about the airline industry seems to slow to a trickle, only to open up in a flood the next. Here's a roundup of news stories that have crossed my screen in the last few hours.

A Washington federal appeals court dealt a blow to the Bush administraton's plan to auction takeoff-and-landing slots at New York area airports as a way to reduce congestion. The court issued a stay for the airline interests that oppose the plan, potentially killing it. 

The International Air Transport Association says that worldwide losses for carriers will be about $2.5 billion next year due to the worst demand environment in five decades. The bright side is, the spike in oil prices earlier this year and economic deterioration resulted in an industry loss of $5 billion in 2008. Also, U.S. airlines may make a small profit in 2009, thanks to the big capacity cuts they've made. Read a little more of the grim story at this link.  Fitch Ratings, one of the big three corporate and public credit-rating agencies, also issued a downbeat report today, expressing concern that demand will be so depressed, and access to credit so limited, airlines will need to watch their liquidity positions carefully.

Airline employees aren't particularly happy, either. The pilots at Northwest have joined flight attendants in suing Northwest merger partner Delta, contending the Delta's seniority integration process is unlawful. Read more about that here.