GENEVA – The world’s leading airline and air transport trade association presented on Tuesday a 20-year forecast report that foresees 7.8 billion passengers by the year 2036, doubling today’s numbers.
The International Air Transport Association’s latest 20-Year Air Passenger Forecast predicted the biggest driver of demand will be the Asia-Pacific region, providing over half the new passengers over the next two decades.
“All indicators lead to growing demand for global connectivity,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO. “The world needs to prepare for a doubling of passengers in the next 20 years.”
IATA, which represents some 275 airlines and 83 percent of global air traffic, also predicted the increase would present governments and the industry with a huge challenge.
The report suggested that China may displace the United States as the world’s largest aviation market two years earlier than stated in last year’s forecast.
It expected China would leapfrog the US in 2022 due to faster Chinese growth, while the United Kingdom could drop to fifth place, surpassed by India in 2025, and Indonesia in 2030.
IATA also predicted that Thailand and Turkey could enter the top 10 largest markets, while France and Italy could drop to 11th and 12th slots, respectively.
China is forecast to boost its tally with 921 million new passengers, reaching a total of 1.5 billion by 2036, followed by the US with 401 million new passengers for a total of 1.1 billion.
India comes third with 337 million new passengers for a total of 478 million, while the fourth will be Indonesia with 235 million new passengers for a total of 355 million and fifth will be Turkey with 119 million new passengers for a total of 196 million.
De Juniac also described the aviation industry’s “robust strategy” to reduce its environmental footprint.
“No industry has done more to meet its environmental obligations,” he said.
Despite the upbeat optimism, there are certain risks with a forecast that relies on maintaining current levels of trade liberalization and visa facilitation.
In the event that trade protectionism and travel restrictions are enforced, air connectivity would decline.
IATA also said air traffic management needed urgent reform to cut delays, costs, and emissions for its forecasts to come true.