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ACI: China to become the largest passenger market

  • Published by Ozgur Tore

beijing airport crowdAirports Council International (ACI) has released the latest edition of the World Airport Traffic Forecasts (WATF) 2017–2040. Boasting traffic forecasts for over 100 country markets, the WATF dataset presents detailed metrics which include total number of passengers (broken down into international and domestic traffic), total air cargo and total aircraft movements.

Absolute figures, compounded annual growth rates (CAGR), market shares and global growth contributions are presented over three time horizons: short-, medium- and long-term over the 2017–2040 period.

With global traffic reaching the 7.7 billion passenger mark in 2016, and expected to double by 2031 based on a projected growth rate of 4.9% per annum, the WATF is an indispensable decision-making resource for airports, businesses and investors.

"Progress in the liberalization of trans-border air transport, enhanced aircraft efficiency over medium- and long-haul operations and the persistent rise in per capita income will fuel the propensity to travel," Gittens continued. "This is especially true in highly populous regions, like Asia-Pacific, where passenger traffic expansion is projected to represent almost 53% of global growth in the next two years."

By 2040, China is predicted to become the largest passenger market, and India is to climb from 5th in 2016 to 3rd rank. A number of other emerging economies are projected to rise in the rankings including Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates and Vietnam. By 2040, emerging economies will account for over 60% of all passenger traffic.

While we will see the steady growth of domestic passengers worldwide, gains will come primarily from international traffic, with a two-year CAGR of 8.4%. International passenger traffic is expected to reach 73% of the size of domestic traffic by 2018, representing more than 52% of total passenger traffic growth over the two-year period.

With respect to cargo, Gittens advised that "a strengthening of global trade and industrial production as well as the recently weakened state of the ocean shipping industry has been a major contributing factor to the growth in air cargo volumes. This substitution across modes of transport is likely temporary once the maritime sector stabilizes. Thus, global air cargo volumes are expected to increase rapidly in the short-term but more slowly in the medium-term, with an overall growth rate in the realm of 3.5% on annualized basis up to 2026."

Nonetheless, there are several impediments that could curtail the continued rise in air transport demand, potentially hampering growth prospects over the short- and medium-term. Specifically, these are related to geopolitical unrest, terrorism and threats to security in certain parts of the world. Physical capacity considerations and potential bottlenecks in air transport infrastructure also pose challenges in accommodating future demand. Finally, protectionist policies that retreat from further economic integration and air transport liberalization could have an adverse effect on the air transport industry.

In addition to global forecasts, regional estimates have been developed for Asia-Pacific, Africa, Europe, Latin America-Caribbean, Middle East and North America. Airport traffic projections are also presented for major economic groupings such as emerging versus advanced economies, BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), G7 (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States), MINT (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey) and more.

The WATF is distributed in a standard EXCEL format and includes analyses, summary tables, predicted rankings and charts as well as the full dataset of forecasts. For a detailed understanding of the methodologies used to produce the forecasts, please refer to the ACI Guide to World Airport Traffic Forecasts

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