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NEWS Last modified on October 17, 2014

IATA forecasts 7.3 billion air travellers a year by 2034

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) Passenger Forecast report has projected that air traffic traveller numbers will reach a massive 7.3 billion by 2034.

The study is the first 20-year passenger growth forecast by the association, which it says represents a 4.1% average annual growth in demand for air connectivity that will result in more than a doubling of the 3.3 billion passengers expected to travel this year.

Among other stand-out findings of the report is the expectation China will overtake the US as the world’s largest passenger market by 2030, but both are expected to remain the largest by a wide margin.

In 2034 flights to, from and within China will account for 1.3 billion passengers, 856 million more than 2014 with an average annual growth rate of 5.5%, while the US is expected to grow at an average annual growth rate of 3.2% that will see 1.2 billion passengers by 2034 (559 million more than 2014).

The report, is the first from the new IATA Passenger Forecasting service, produced in association with Tourism Economics, analyses passenger flows across 4,000 country pairs for the next 20 years, forecasting passenger numbers by way three key demand drivers: living standards, population and demographics, and price and availability.

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Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO, explains: “It is an exciting prospect to think that in the next 20 years more than twice as many passengers as today will have the chance to fly.

“Air connectivity on this scale will help transform economic opportunities for millions of people. At present, aviation helps sustain 58 million jobs and $2.4 trillion in economic activity.

“In 20 years’ time we can expect aviation to be supporting around 105 million jobs and $6 trillion in GDP.”

The IATA report claims by 2034 the five fastest-increasing markets in terms of additional passengers per year will be China (856 million new passengers per year), the US (559 million), India (266 million), Indonesia (183 million) and Brazil (170 million).

Eight of the ten fastest-growing markets in percentage terms it says will be in Africa with Central African Republic, Madagascar, Tanzania, Burundi and Kuwait making up the five fastest-growing markets.

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In terms of country-pairs, Asian and South American destinations will see the fastest growth, reflecting economic and demographic growth in those markets. Intra-Pakistan, Kuwait-Thailand, United Arab Emirates (UAE)-Ethiopia, Colombia-Ecuador and intra-Honduras travel will all grow by at least 9.5% on average for the next 20 years, while Indonesia-East Timor will be the fastest growing pair of all, at 14.9%.

Tyler continues: “Meeting the potential demand will require government policies that support the economic benefits that growing connectivity makes possible. Airlines can only fly where there is infrastructure to accommodate them.

“People can only fly as long as ticket taxes don’t price them out of their seats. And air connectivity can only thrive when nations open their skies and their markets. It’s a virtuous circle.

“Growing connectivity stimulates economies. And healthy economies demand greater connectivity. The message of this forecast is that there is great potential if all aviation stakeholders, including governments play their role.”

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