The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said present trend in air transport suggests that passenger numbers could double to 8.2 billion in 2037.
It noted that over the next two decades, the forecast anticipates a 3.5 per cent compound annual growth rate (CAGR), leading to a doubling in passenger numbers from today’s levels.
The forecast also observed that the world passenger traffic was moving to the east, which now forms the gravity of the industry, adding that China would displace the US as the biggest aviation market.
The association warned, however, that growth prospects for air transport, and the economic benefits driven by aviation, could be curtailed if protectionist measures are implemented by governments.
“Aviation is growing, and that is generating huge benefits for the world. A doubling of air passengers in the next 20 years could support 100 million jobs globally.
“There are two important things that stand out about this year’s forecast. Firstly, we are seeing a geographical reshuffling of world air traffic to the East. And secondly, we foresee a significant negative impact on the growth and benefits of aviation if tough and restrictive protectionist measures are implemented,” said IATA’s Director General and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac,
IATA said the Asia-Pacific region would drive the biggest growth with more than half the total number of new passengers over the next 20 years coming from these markets. Growth in this market is being driven by a combination of continued robust economic growth, improvements in household incomes and favorable population and demographic profiles.
The study noted that China would displace the United States as the world’s largest aviation market (defined as traffic to, from and within the country) in the mid-2020s, noting that the rebalancing of China’s economy towards consumption would support strong passenger demand over the long term.
IATA also disclosed that India would take third place after the US, surpassing the UK around 2024.
Indonesia is projected to be a standout performer—climbing from the world’s 10th largest aviation market in 2017 to the 4th largest by 2030 and Thailand is expected to enter the top 10 markets in 2030, replacing Italy which drops out of the ranking.
It noted that policy shifts were likely over time, remarking that should protectionism continue to expand in a “reverse globalisation” scenario, aviation would continue to grow, but at a slower pace and deliver fewer economic and social benefits.
It also observed that under a liberalised environment connectivity would generate significantly more jobs and GDP growth.