IATA predicts air passengers will almost double to 7.8 billion by 2036

INTERNATIONAL. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has revealed it expects air passenger traffic to almost double by 2036 to 7.8 billion.

Around 4 billion air travellers expected to fly this year. Based on a +3.6% average CAGR, this number is set to almost double, with Asia Pacific the biggest growth driver, finds IATA’s latest 20-Year Air Passenger Forecast.

“All indicators lead to growing demand for global connectivity. The world needs to prepare for a doubling of passengers in the next 20 years. It’s fantastic news for innovation and prosperity, which is driven by air links. It is also a huge challenge for governments and industry to ensure we can successfully meet this essential demand,” said IATA Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac.

Asia Pacific will be the source of more than half the new passengers over the next two decades. China is rapidly closing in on the United States as the world’s largest aviation market (defined as traffic to, from and within the country). In fact, the point at which it will overtake the US has moved two years closer (2022) since last year’s forecast (2024).

The UK is expected to 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.

Forecast for growth within the major domestic markets is led by Asian markets overtaking Western nations

Fast-growing markets

The five fastest-growing markets in terms of annual additional passengers in 2036 compared to 2016 will be:

  • China (921 million new passengers for a total of 1.5 billion)
  • US (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)
  • Turkey (119 million new passengers for a total of 196 million)

Many of the fastest-growing markets are achieving a compound growth rate of more than =7.2% per year, meaning their market will double in size each decade. Most of these markets are in Africa, including: Sierra Leone, Benin, Mali, Rwanda, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Senegal, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Tanzania, Malawi, Chad, Gambia and Mozambique.

Regional growth

  • Routes to, from and within Asia-Pacific will see an extra 2.1 billion annual passengers by 2036, for an overall market size of 3.5 billion. Its annual average growth rate of +4.6% will be the third-highest, behind Africa and the Middle East.
  • North America traffic will grow by +2.3% annually and in 2036 will carry a total of 1.2 billion passengers, an additional 452 million passengers per year.
  • Europe will also grow at +2.3%, and will add an additional 550 million passengers a year. The total market will be 1.5 billion passengers.
  • Latin American markets will grow by +4.2%, serving a total of 757 million passengers, an additional 421 million passengers annually compared to today.
  • The Middle East will grow strongly at +5% and will see an extra 322 million passengers by 2036. The total market size will be 517 million passengers.
  • Africa will grow by +5.9%. By 2036 it will see an extra 274 million passengers a year for a total market of 400 million passengers.

Risks, opportunities and sustainability

The relaxation of regulation could help increase pax traffic, but other risks such as an increase in protectionism could hamper growth

IATA identified a number of risks that could impact the forecast including trade liberalisation and visa facilitation. If trade protectionism and travel restrictions are put in place, the benefits of air connectivity will decline as growth could slow to 2.7%, meaning 1.1 billion fewer passenger journeys annually in 2036. However, if moves towards liberalisation increase, annual growth could be more than two percentage points faster, leading to a tripling in passengers over the next 20 years.

The association stressed that planning for growth will require partnerships to be strengthened between the aviation industry, communities and governments to expand and modernise infrastructure. Improvements in infrastructure – from runways, terminals, and ground access to airports to baggage and security processes, cargo handling, and other activities, will be needed. Delays, costs and emissions also need to be cut.

“Increasing demand will bring a significant infrastructure challenge. The solution does not lie in more complex processes or building bigger and bigger airports but in harnessing the power of new technology to move activity off-airport, streamline processes and improve efficiency. Through partnerships within the industry and beyond, we are confident that sustainable solutions for continued growth can be found,” said de Juniac.

The aviation industry has adopted a robust strategy to reduce its environmental impacts, particularly its carbon emissions, according to IATA. “No industry has done more to meet its environmental obligations than aviation. Our tough targets to achieve carbon-neutral growth from 2020 and to cut our CO2 emissions to half-2005 levels by 2050 are backed by a comprehensive strategy. Our immediate aims are to work with governments to increase the production of sustainable aviation fuels, and to deliver air traffic management efficiencies, which promise significant emissions savings. And from 2020, a Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) will play a major role in meeting our carbon-neutral target,” de Juniac concluded.




Food & Beverage The Magazine eZine