Number of air passengers expected to double in 20 years to reach 7.3bn

According to The International Air Transport Association (IATA), the number of air passenger is expected to more than double within the next two decades, The Scotsman has reported.

In its first 20-year growth forecast, IATA said that nearly 3.3 billion passengers are forecast to travel this year, and the overall aviation market is set to grow by 4.1 per cent a year over the next two decades. IATA, the trade association for the world’s airlines representing nearly 240 global airlines, predicts that global passenger numbers would reach 7.3 billion by 2034.

By 2030, China is predicted to overtake the United States as the world’s largest passenger market, in terms of passengers travelling to, from and within the country, IATA said. IATA also predicts that India could overtake the UK to become the world’s third-largest air travel market in 2031.

While Asia-Pacific is expected to register annual growth rates of 4.9 per cent, Europe is set to have the slowest growth at 2.7 per cent and North America will have 3.3 per cent.

Tony Tyler, IATA’s director-general, said: ‘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.’

‘By 2034, the aviation sector could support about 105 million jobs – against 58 million today – and contribute $6 trillion (£3.8tn) to the global economy,’ Tyler said, adding: ‘Air connectivity can only thrive when nations open their skies and markets. It’s a virtuous circle. Growing connectivity stimulates economies [which] demand greater connectivity.’

‘If aviation were a country, it would be amongst the top ten largest contributors to climate change on the planet,’ the report quoted Lang Banks, director of environmental campaign group WWF Scotland, as saying.

‘Despite all the promised efficiency gains, the growth in passenger numbers and flights predicted by the industry are totally incompatible with the need to curb emissions from this sector,’ Banks added.