If you have been grumbling recently about how much it costs you to fill your car up because of record fuel prices, spare a thought for the poor old airlines.

For example, when Air Canada fills up a new Boeing 777 in Toronto for a one-way flight to Heathrow, it now costs a whopping $68,948. Can you image paying that every time you filled your tank up?

Well, its hurting the airlines too. The industry will lose $6.1bn this year if the oil price remains at record levels, with carriers facing a worse crisis than after the terrorist attacks of September 11 2001, the International Air Transport Association has warned.

Airlines will move from a profit of $5.6bn last year to a loss of $6.1bn this year if oil is trading at $135 a barrel, according to forecasts from the global airline body. Giovanni Bisignani, its chief executive, said the industry was “struggling for survival”, with 24 airlines going out of business since January.

“The situation is desperate and potentially more destructive than our recent battles with all the horsemen of the apocalypse combined,” he told hundreds of airline executives at the Iata annual general meeting yesterday.

So if climate change won’t stop the airlines flying, the oil price will. There must be irony there somewhere…