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China will overtake the United States

  • Published by Ozgur Tore

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released its first 20-year passenger growth forecast, projecting that China will overtake the United States as the world’s largest passenger market.

Among the highlights of the report is the passenger numbers which are expected to reach 7.3 billion by 2034. That 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.

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By 2030, China will overtake the United States as the world’s largest passenger market; however, both markets are expected to remain the largest by a wide margin. In 2034 flights to, from and within China will account for some 1.3 billion passengers, 856 million more than 2014 with an average annual growth rate of 5.5%. Traffic to, from and within 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).

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

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%.

Reflecting a declining and ageing population, Japanese air passenger numbers will grow just 1.3% per year and decline from the 4th largest market in 2014 to the 9th largest by 2033.

Germany and Spain will decline from 5th and 6th position in 2014 to be the 8th and 7th largest markets respectively. France will fall from 7th to 10th while Italy will fall out of the top 10 altogether in around 2019.

Brazil will increase passenger numbers by 170 million and rise from 10th to 5th. Its total market will be 272 million passengers.

Indonesia will enter the top ten around 2020 and attain 6th place by 2029. By 2034 it will be a market of 270 million passengers.

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