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IATA forecasts more flyers than people now alive

November 1, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) expects airline passenger numbers to double to 8.2 billion in 2037 – which is about 6% more people than currently exist in the world.

IATA says that’s what trends in air travel suggest. World population reached 7.7 billion last month (October 2018), according to the most recent United Nations estimates, as the population explosion continues. Africa is the fastest growing region in population, by far, but that’s not where the fastest air passenger growth is tipped to come from.

Step forward the Asia-Pacific region, powerhouse of world travel. 

Highlights of the latest update to IATA’s 20-Year Air Passenger Forecast include:

  • The Asia-Pacific region will 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.
  • China will displace the United States as the world’s largest aviation market (defined as traffic to, from and within the country) in the mid-2020s. The rebalancing of China’s economy towards consumption will support strong passenger demand over the long term.
  • India will take 3rd place after the US, surpassing the UK around 2024.
  • Indonesia is forecast to be a standout performer—climbing from the world’s 10th largest aviation market in 2017 to the 4th largest by 2030.
  • Thailand is expected to enter the top 10 markets in 2030, replacing Italy which drops out of the ranking.

Over the next two decades, the forecast anticipates a 3.5% compound annual growth rate (CAGR), leading to a doubling in passenger numbers from today’s levels.

The Asia-Pacific region will 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 favourable population and demographic profiles.

Enormous growth poses big environmental challenges. As IATA’s director general and chief executive, Alexandre de Juniac noted: “The increased demand to fly creates a responsibility to expand in a sustainable manner.”

All-time record forecast for air travel

He said the aviation industry remained committed to its goals of carbon-neutral growth from 2020 onwards and cutting CO2 emissions to half 2005 levels by 2050.

“Commercial aviation is one of the only global industries to take on such comprehensive environmental targets. With mandatory emissions reporting beginning on 1 January 2019 under the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), this will help rally the industry to invest in more fuel efficient aircraft and sustainable aviation fuels,” he said.

IATA warned, however, that growth prospects for air transport, and the economic benefits driven by aviation, could be reduced if governments implement protectionist measures.

“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,” de Juniac said.

“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.”

Written by Peter Needham

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