The International Air Transport Association (IATA) expects 7.8 billion passengers to travel in 2036, a near doubling of the 4 billion air travelers expected to fly this year, according to the latest update to the association’s 20-Year Air Passenger Forecast. The prediction is based on a 3.6 percent average Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR).
“All indicators lead to growing demand for global connectivity. The world needs to prepare for a doubling of passengers in the next 20 years,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO, adding that it will be a huge challenge for governments and industry to ensure the essential can be successfully met.
According to the forecast, China will displace the United States as the world’s largest aviation market (defined as traffic to, from and within the country) and the UK will fall to fifth place, surpassed by India in 2025, and Indonesia in 2030. Thailand and Turkey will enter the top ten largest markets, while France and Italy will fall in the rankings to 11th and 12th respectively.
Fast-growing markets, Regional growth
The five fastest-growing markets in terms of annual additional passengers in 2036 compared to 2016, according to IATA, will be China (921 million new passengers for a total of 1.5 billion), the United States (401 million new passengers for a total of 1.1 billion), India (337 million new passengers for a total of 478 million), Indonesia (235 million new passengers for a total of 355 million) and Turkey (119 million new passengers for a total of 196 million).
Regarding regional growth, routes to, from and within Asia-Pacific will see an extra 2.1 billion annual passengers by 2036; the North American region will grow by 2.3 percent annually and in 2036 will carry a total of 1.2 billion passengers; Latin American markets will grow by 4.2 percent, serving a total of 757 million passengers; the Middle East will grow strongly (5.0 percent) and will see an extra 322 million passengers a year on routes to, from and within the region by 2036; Africa will grow by 5.9 percent and by 2036 it will see an extra 274 million passengers a year for a total market of 400 million passengers.
In regards to Europe, the forecast sees regional growth of 2.3 percent, adding an additional 550 million passengers a year. Europe’s total market will be 1.5 billion passengers.
Moreover, IATA said that planning for growth will require partnerships to be strengthened between the aviation industry, communities and governments to expand and modernize infrastructure.
Runways, terminals, and ground access to airports will come under increasing strain. Innovative solutions to these challenges, as well as to the baggage and security processes, cargo handling, and other activities, will also be needed. And air traffic management needs urgent reform to cut delays, costs and emissions.
IATA underlined that a number of risks to the forecast have been identified: “Maximizing the potential benefits of aviation growth will depend on current levels of trade liberalization and visa facilitation being maintained. If trade protectionism and travel restrictions are put in place, the benefits of air connectivity will decline as growth could slow to 2.7 percent, meaning 1.1 billion fewer passenger journeys annually in 2036. Conversely, if moves towards liberalization increase, annual growth could be more than two percentage points faster, leading to a tripling in passengers over the next 20 years.”
IATA represents some 275 airlines comprising 83 percent of global air traffic.