The International Air Transport Association (IATA) recently released its first 20-year passenger growth forecast, projecting that passenger numbers are expected to reach 7.3 billion by 2034. That represents a 4.1 percent average annual growth in demand for air connectivity that will result in more than a doubling of the 3.3 billion passengers expected to travel this year.
“It is an exciting prospect to think that in the next 20 years more than twice as many passengers as today will have the chance to fly. Air connectivity on this scale will help transform economic opportunities for millions of people,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
According to Mr. Tyler, at present, aviation helps sustain 58 million jobs and $2.4 trillion in economic activity. “In 20 years’ time we can expect aviation to be supporting around 105 million jobs and $6 trillion in GDP,” he added.
Among the highlights of the report is the expectation that China will overtake the United States as the world’s largest passenger market (defined by traffic to, from and within) by 2030. Both markets, however, are expected to remain the largest by a wide margin. In 2034 flights to, from and within China will account for some 1.3 billion passengers, 856 million more than 2014 with an average annual growth rate of 5.5 percent. Traffic to, from and within the US is expected to grow at an average annual growth rate of 3.2 percent that will see 1.2 billion passengers by 2034 (559 million more than 2014).
“People can only fly as long as ticket taxes don’t price them out of their seats. And air connectivity can only thrive when nations open their skies and their markets. It’s a virtuous circle. Growing connectivity stimulates economies. And healthy economies demand greater connectivity,” IATA’s director general said.
“The message of this forecast is that there is great potential if all aviation stakeholders—including governments—play their role,” he concluded.
The report, the first from the new IATA Passenger Forecasting service, produced in association with Tourism Economics, analyzes passenger flows across 4,000 country pairs for the next 20 years, forecasting passenger numbers by way of three key demand drivers: living standards, population and demographics, and price and availability.