Asia, LatAm to lead air travel by 2034

Updated: 2014-10-27 05:29

By JACK FREIFELDER in New York(China Daily USA)

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China's role in global air travel is poised to continue growing over the next 20 years, according to a trade association.

In 2034, the total worldwide airplane passenger volume will approach 7.3 billion, more than double the 3.3 billion expected this year, according to data from the International Air Transport Association's (IATA) most recent forecast.

By then, China (1.3 billion) will overtake the United States (1.2 billion) as the world's largest airline-traffic market, with India (367 million), the United Kingdom (337 million) and Brazil (272 million) rounding out the top five from the IATA's outlook report.

An analysis of travel flows and passenger data across 4,000 country pairs formed the core of the findings, which were released on Oct 16. Estimates were based on three main demand-drivers: living standards, population demographics, and price and availability.

Data include expected air traffic to, from and within a given market for the period 2014-2034.

The Global Passenger Forecast, the inaugural publication from the new IATA Passenger Forecasting service, was conducted with Tourism Economics, an independent economics forecaster.

"It is an exciting prospect to think that in the next 20 years more than twice as many passengers as today will have the chance to fly,"Tony Tyler, IATA's director general and CEO, said in a statement."Air connectivity on this scale will help transform economic opportunities for millions of people.

"Aviation helps sustain 58 million jobs and $2.4 trillion in economic activity,"he said."In 20 years' time, we can expect aviation to be supporting around 105 million jobs and $6 trillion in GDP.”

"The average ticket prices have declined in the last 20 years by one-third, when adjusted for inflation, making it possible for emerging economies like Brazil, China and Indonesia to travel more,"Jason Sinclair, a spokesman for the IATA, told Travel Weekly.

"Flying is cheaper than what it used to be, and people have more disposable income now,"he said.

The greater Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East will see increases of nearly 5 percent each during the next two decades. China is one of the emerging markets with the most growth potential (5.5 percent), the report said.

Latin American markets will grow by 4.7 percent, with Brazil's domestic air-travel passenger market expected to climb 5.4 percent.

US air travel will see 3.2 percent growth, according to the report.

Michael Boyd, president of Boyd Group International, an aviation consulting firm in Evergreen, Colorado, told China Daily that his firm is working with a number of airports to become"China ready”.

"There are different things Chinese visitors like,"Boyd said."They like to travel in large groups, so you want to have a Mandarin translator; you want to have Chinese signage, etc., and that's preparing for a future. It will be airports and communities that are ‘China ready' that will get these groups. Those that aren't are less likely to get them; it's as simple as that.”

Meeting demand will require widespread government policy cooperation, said Tyler, the IATA CEO."Airlines can only fly where there is infrastructure to accommodate them,"he said.

"The first century of air travel has seen about 65 billion passengers take to the sky, but the next 65 billion will fly in just the next 20 years,"he said."Air connectivity can only thrive when nations open their skies and their markets.”

The top five markets for total expected passenger travel in 2014 are the US, China, United Kingdom, Japan and Germany.