Global traffic surpassed the 8.2 billion passenger mark in 2017 and the WATF projects that it is expected to double by 2034 based on a projected growth rate of 4.3% per annum.
Over the long-term, it is projected to grow at an annualised rate of 4.1%, reaching 20.9 billion by 2040.
In this timeframe, China is predicted to become the largest passenger market with just under four billion passengers. The total accounting for nearly 20% of global passenger traffic.
While a number of other emerging economies are projected to rise in the rankings including Indonesia, Turkey and Vietnam.
In 2040, an estimated 20% of all air cargo will be handled in the US with China and the United Arab Emirates predicted to be the second and third largest markets.
Indeed, ACI World expects the three countries to account for 40% of the air cargo handled across the globe.
In the short term, however, ACI World believes that last year's strong growth rates in air cargo volumes is unlikely to be repeated in 2018 given the adverse headwinds in trade relations and heightened geopolitical tensions.
“The prospects for growth in the passenger market over the short, medium and long-term, remain robust and, while there are some concerns around cargo in the short term, the longer-term outlook is more positive,” says ACI World's director general, Angela Gittens.
“Passenger numbers are set to surpass 8.7 billion in 2018 and the global medium-term forecast shows almost 30% growth in passenger numbers from now until 2022.
"Aviation’s gravitational centre continues to shift eastward, because future growth in passenger traffic will originate from emerging markets, many of which are in the Asia-Pacific region.
“While this is welcome, surging air transport demand threatens to outstrip current and planned airport infrastructure in many regions around the world. These physical capacity considerations and potential bottlenecks in air transport infrastructure pose challenges to the global industry in accommodating the strong forecast future demand.
“Geopolitical tensions and protectionist policies that retreat from further economic integration and air transport liberalization could also have an adverse effect on the air transport industry.
“The aviation industry must come together to respond to these challenges and help to ensure communities continue to reap the social and economic benefits of air service growth.
"Policy at a national and global level should be focused on facilitating sustainable growth over the long term.”