The International Air Transport Association (IATA), Wednesday revealed that present trends in air transport suggest passenger numbers could double to about 8.2 billion by 2037.
The latest update to IATA’s 20-Year Air Passenger Forecast, shows that an increasing shift Eastwards in the centre of gravity of the industry is behind the continued strong growth.Over the next two decades, the forecast anticipates a 3.5 per cent Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR), leading to a doubling in passenger numbers from today’s levels.
Africa will grow by a CAGR of 4.6 per cent, while an extra of 199 million passengers will bring the total market available to Nigeria and other African airlines to 334 million passengers by 2037.
The association, however, warned that growth prospects for air transport, and the economic benefits driven by aviation, could be curtailed if protectionist measures are implemented by governments.
IATA’s Director General and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Alexandre de Juniac, said 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.”
According to the projection, 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.
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 U.S., surpassing the U.K. 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.
The 3.5 per cent CAGR to 2037 assumes an unchanged policy framework over that period. Policy shifts, however, are likely over time. Should protectionism continue to expand in a “reverse globalisation” scenario, aviation would continue to grow, but at a slower pace and deliver fewer economic and social benefits. Under a liberalised environment connectivity would generate significantly more jobs and GDP growth.
“Global prosperity depends on air connectivity. Aviation is sensitive to policies that either support or undermine growth. And these seem to be pointing in the wrong direction. Dampening demand for air connectivity risks high quality jobs, and economic activity dependent on global mobility. This forecast is a cautionary warning to governments.
“First, the industry will grow but they must clear the infrastructure bottlenecks to bring that growth to their home markets. And secondly, governments must understand that globalisation has made our world more socially and economically prosperous. Inhibiting globalisation with protectionism will see opportunities lost,” said de Juniac.
“No matter which growth scenario comes to pass, aviation faces infrastructure crisis. Governments must work closely with the industry, to be more ambitious in developing efficient infrastructure, fit for purpose, and offering value for money.“The world stands to benefit greatly from better connectivity. However, at this rate, airports and air traffic control will not be able to handle demand. Governments and infrastructure operators must strategically plan for the future. Decisions made now will have an impact on the value created by aviation for their regions,” said de Juniac.