Global air journeys could double to 8.2 billion per year in 2037 unless globalization starts to unravel, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said on Wednesday.

The head of the industry group, Alexandre de Juniac, warned that ‘we foresee a significant negative impact on the growth and benefits of aviation if tough and restrictive protectionist measures are implemented.’  If policies stay the same and if there is no backlash against globalization, passenger numbers will increase by 3.5 per cent each year in the next two decades, according to the organization, which is based in Montreal and Geneva.

IATA, which represents 290 airlines in 120 countries, expects the biggest increases from domestic flights in China.

The routes from India to the United Arab Emirates, and from China to Thailand and to Japan are also seen as growth markets.

If the United States reverses its current protectionist policies, global passenger growth could reach 5.5 per year, the IATA calculated.

If Washington's trade conflicts escalate, the rate would fall to 2.4 per cent.