* Net profit seen rising 11 pct to $38.4 bln
* No sign of cyclical downturn - economist
* Focus for airlines on keeping costs under control (Adds further data, comments on costs, pilot shortage)
GENEVA, Dec 5 (Reuters) - Global airlines will return to record profit in 2018 thanks to improving economies and robust travel demand, with fares also set to rise, the International Air Transport Authority (IATA) said on Tuesday.
Industry profits are expected to rise 11 percent to $38.4 billion in 2018, after a slight dip to $34.5 billion in 2017, IATA said.
The outlook is still bright, bucking a trend to eight-year cycles that would indicate a major downturn was due soon, IATA Chief Economist Brian Pearce said.
"We are eight years into this air travel cycle, but we see no reason at present to expect that cyclical pattern to repeat itself," he said.
After declining for six years in a row, passenger yields, a measure of ticket pricing, are also expected to rise 3 percent next year after falling 1.5 percent in 2017.
IATA said the increase in fares was in line with expected inflation. (Reporting by Victoria Bryan; Editing by Arno Schuetze and Maria Sheahan)