Airline passenger growth to reach 3.9bn

A total of 930 million more people are projected to fly over the next five years, bringing the global tally to 3.91 billion by 2017, forecasts the airline trade body International Air Transport Association (IATA).

  • Published: 12/12/2013 at 12:00 AM
  • Newspaper section: breakingnews

This represents a 31% growth rate from 2013 to 2017 over the 2.98 billion carried in 2012.

Air travel demand is projected to rise by a 5.4% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2013 to 2017, outstripping a 4.3% CAGR from 2008 to 2012 that was weighed down because of the negative impact of the 2008 global financial crisis.

Of the new passengers, IATA said 292 million will fly on international routes and 638 million on domestic routes.

The emerging economies of the Middle East and Asia-Pacific will see the strongest international passenger growth with CAGRs of 6.3% and 5.7%, followed by Africa and Latin America with CAGRs of 5.3% and 4.5%.

Routes within or connected to China will be the single largest driver of growth, accounting for 24% of new passengers during the forecast period. Of the anticipated 227.4 million additional passengers from China, 195 million are projected to be domestic and 32.4 million international.

The Asia-Pacific region including China is expected to add around 300 million passengers by the end of 2017, with 225 million domestic passengers.

With 677.8 million domestic passengers (a passenger can be the same person making several flights) in 2017, the US will continue to be the largest single market for domestic passengers, although it will add only 70 million passengers over the forecast period (2.2% CAGR).

China is firmly established in second place with a projected 487.9 million passengers in 2017, a 10.2% CAGR.

The US is also predicted to reclaim the top spot from Germany for international passengers by the end of the forecast period. Germany will add 27.2 million passengers to its 149.4 million in 2012 (3.4% CAGR), while the US will add 28.2 million international passengers for a total of 177.5 million (3.5% CAGR) in 2017.

That Asia-Pacific and the Middle East will deliver the strongest growth over the forecast period is not surprising, said the IATA Airline Industry Forecast 2013-2017.

Governments in both areas recognise the value of the connectivity provided by aviation to drive global trade and development, it said.

Similar opportunities exist for developing regions in Africa and Latin America. To reap the benefits, governments in those regions need to change their view of aviation from a luxury cash cow to a utilitarian draft horse that can pull the economy forward, said IATA director-general Tony Tyler.

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Writer: Boonsong Kositchotethana
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