IATA 20-year forecast predicts passenger numbers will almost double by 2036

IATA forecasts 7.8 billion passengers to travel in 2036, a near doubling of the 4 billion air travelers expected to fly this year.

“All indicators lead to growing demand for global connectivity,” says Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO. “The world needs to prepare for a doubling of passengers in the next 20 years.

"It is 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.”

According to the latest IATA 20-year Passenger Forecast, Asia-Pacific will see the biggest growth, hosting more than half the new passengers over the next two decades.

China will displace the United States as the world’s largest single aviation market

Some 3.5 billion travelers will take to the sky in the region in 2036, an extra 2.1 billion passengers compared with today.

China will displace the United States as the world’s largest single aviation market (traffic to, from and within) in about 2022, and will continue to grow.

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

  • China (921 million new passengers for a total of 1.5 billion)

  • 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)

  • Turkey (119 million new passengers for a total of 196 million)

Many of the fastest-growing markets will be in Africa. A compound growth rate of more than 7.2% per year means a doubling in the size of the aviation market each decade in countries such as Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Mozambique, Senegal, Uganda, and Zambia.

Greater liberalization could lead to a tripling in passenger numbers over the next 20 yearsA number of factors will influence the accuracy of the forecast. Current levels of trade liberalization and visa facilitation must be maintained, for example.

If trade protectionism and travel restrictions are put in place, it could mean 1.1 billion fewer journeys annually in 2036. Conversely, greater liberalization could lead to a tripling in passenger numbers over the next 20 years.

Increasing demand will also 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,” says de Juniac.

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