Airline profits are expected to almost double this year to US$29.3 billion - amounting to US$8.27 per passenger carried.
The strong results are a result of improved global economic prospects, record load factors, lower fuel prices, and the appreciation of the US dollar.
On expected revenue of US$727 billion ($1022 billion), the industry would achieve a 4 per cent net profit margin.
The figures were unveiled at the International Air Transport Association annual meeting in Miami, where director general Tony Tyler said stark differences remained in regional economies, which are also reflected in airline performance.
"The industry's fortunes are far from uniform. Many airlines still face huge challenges," Tyler said.
More than half the global profit is expected to come from airlines based in North America (US$15.7 billion).
For North American airlines, the margin on earnings before interest and taxation is expected to exceed 12 per cent, more than double that of the next best performing regions of Asia-Pacific and Europe.
"For the airline business, 2015 is turning out to be a positive year. Since the tragic events of September 2001, the global airline industry has transformed itself with major gains in efficiency. This is clearly evident in the expected record high passenger load factor of 80.2 per cent for this year."
Across the Asia-Pacific the slowdown in the Chinese economy has also had a dampening impact on profitability.
However, demand was expected to grow at a healthy 8.1 per cent, slightly ahead of the 7.7 per cent forecast growth in capacity.
"Lower fuel costs will help but the stronger dollar reduces the benefit in this region," IATA said.
Here Air New Zealand is on track for a strong full-year result after announcing a 20 per cent increase in interim normalised earnings before taxation to a record $216 million. The airline's shares last month hit a seven-year high.
Qantas - benefiting from lower fuel costs - turned around heavy losses in the first half of this year, reporting a surplus of $367 million compared to $252 million pre-tax loss in the same period the year before.
Tyler said global profits needed to be kept in perspective.
"Apple, a single company, earned US$13.6 billion in the second quarter of this year. That's just under half the expected full-year profit of the entire airline industry. We don't begrudge anyone their business success. But it is important for our stakeholders, particularly governments, to understand that the business of providing global connectivity is still a very tough one," Tyler said.
The association is pushing for deeper partnerships with governments based on global standards in the critical areas of safety, infrastructure, security, regulation and environment.
Tyler said governments seemed to be losing faith in a basic principle of commerce - that businesses become successful by pleasing customers.
"Many regulators are adopting passenger rights regimes - some of which come close to dictating product design and marketing," he said. "Worse, there is no international co-ordination. When things go wrong, passengers need clarity, not confusion."
• Consumers benefit from lower oil prices with lower fares, more routes, and spend 1 per cent of world GDP on air transport.
• Equity owners see a far better 2015 with a 7.5 per cent average airline return on capital, above the cost of capital for the first time.
• Fuel use per available tonne kilometres to fall a further 1.5 per cent. This saves 11 million tonnes of CO2 emissions and US$3 billion of fuel costs.
• Load factors forecast to stabilise as capacity rises; new aircraft deliveries represent a $180 billion investment.