The Middle East’s aviation market will grow strongly over the next 20 years scaling up to 517mn passengers by 2036, a new IATA report has shown.
This means, the region led by the GCC, will maintain average compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5%, the International Air Transport Association said in its 20-year ‘Air Passenger Forecast’ released on Tuesday.
In terms of passenger numbers, an extra 322mn passengers will take to the skies over the next 20 years in the Middle East, said IATA, the global body of airlines, representing some 275 carriers and accounting for 83% of global air traffic.
Globally, IATA expects 7.8bn passengers to travel in 2036, a near doubling of the 4bn air travellers expected to fly this year. The prediction is based on a 3.6% average CAGR.
The five fastest-growing markets in terms of annual additional passengers in 2036 will be China (921mn new passengers for a total of 1.5bn), US (401mn new passengers for a total of 1.1bn), India (337mn new passengers for a total of 478mn), Indonesia (235mn new passengers for a total of 355mn) and Turkey (119mn new passengers for a total of 196mn).
Many of the fastest-growing markets are achieving a compound growth rate of more than 7.2% a year, meaning their market will double in size each decade, IATA noted.
Most of these markets are in Africa, including Sierra Leone, Benin, Mali, Rwanda, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Senegal, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Tanzania, Malawi, Chad, Gambia and Mozambique.
According to IATA, the biggest driver of demand will be the Asia-Pacific region. The region will be the source of more than half the new passengers over the next two decades.
The point at which China will displace the US as the world’s largest aviation market (defined as traffic to, from and within the country) has moved two years closer since last year’s forecast.
“We now anticipate this will occur around 2022, through a combination of slightly faster Chinese growth and slightly reduced growth in the US. The UK will fall to fifth place, surpassed by India in 2025, and Indonesia in 2030. Thailand and Turkey will enter the top ten largest markets, while France and Italy will fall in the rankings to 11th and 12th respectively,” IATA said.
A number of risks to the forecast have been identified. Maximising the potential benefits of aviation growth will depend on current levels of trade liberalisation and visa facilitation being maintained. If trade protectionism and travel restrictions are put in place, the benefits of air connectivity will decline as growth could slow to 2.7%, meaning 1.1bn fewer passenger journeys annually in 2036.
Conversely, if moves towards liberalisation increase, annual growth could be more than two percentage points faster, leading to a tripling in passengers over the next 20 years.
IATA’s director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said, "All indicators lead to growing demand for global connectivity. The world needs to prepare for a doubling of passengers in the next 20 years. It’s fantastic news for innovation and prosperity, which is driven by air links. It is also a huge challenge for governments and industry to ensure we can successfully meet this essential demand."
"Increasing demand will bring a significant infrastructure challenge. The solution does not lie in more complex processes or building bigger and bigger airports but in harnessing the power of new technology to move activity off-airport, streamline processes and improve efficiency. Through partnerships within the industry and beyond, we are confident that sustainable solutions for continued growth can be found."