The International Air Transport Association (Iata) expects 3,3-billion air travellers by 2014, 800-million more than the 2,5-billion in 2009, with China forecast to be the biggest contributor of new travellers.
In its industry consensus forecast, released on Monday, the industry body reported that 45%, or 360-million, of the 800-million new travellers expected by 2014, would travel on Asia Pacific routes, of which 214-million would be associated with China.
The US would remain the largest single country market for domestic passengers, at 671-million passengers, as well as 215-million international passengers.
Iata also anticipated that international aviation would handle 38-million tons of air cargo by 2014, 12,5-million tons more than the 26-million tons carried in 2009.
Iata director-general and CEO Giovanni Bisignani said that, despite some regional differences, the forecast indicated that the world would continue to become more mobile.
“This creates enormous opportunities, but also presents some challenges. In five years, we need to be able to handle 800-million more passengers and 12,5-million more tons of international cargo,” he noted.
Domestic passenger numbers were expected to rise from 1,5-billion in 2009 to over two-billion in 2014, reflecting a compound yearly growth rate of 5,7%. South Africa’s numbers were expected to grow by 10,6%.
Africa was expected to see international passenger growth of 7,7%, the second highest of the regions. However, international cargo demand was expected to be 5,8%, the lowest among the regions.
International passenger numbers were expected to rise from 952-million in 2009 to 1,3-billion passengers in 2014. This 313-million traveller increase reflected a compound yearly growth rate of 5,9%.
The fastest-growing markets for international passenger traffic would be China, with a 10,8% growth, 10,2% in both the United Arab Emirates and Vietnam, 10,1% in Malaysia and 9,5% in Sri Lanka.
By 2014, the top five countries for international travel, measured by number of passengers would be the US at 215-million, an increase of 45-million, the UK, increasing by 33-million to 198-million, Germany, at 163-million after a 29-million increase, Spain, increasing to 123-million with 21-million more passengers, and France, seeing 111-million passengers after a 21-million increase.
The report stated that China would record the highest growth of 13,9% and contribute an additional 181-million passengers. Other countries with double-digit growth included Vietnam, with 10,9%, India, with 10,5%, and the Philippines, with 10,2%.
Asia Pacific’s international passenger demand was expected to grow by 7,6%. By 2014, China, Japan and Hong Kong would be the biggest international passenger markets in the region, with China being the largest international and domestic market in Asia.
The Middle East was expected to have the fastest growth rate at 9,4%, while Europe would see an international passenger demand growth of 4,7%.
“The focus of the industry continues to shift eastward. By 2014, one-billion people will travel by air in Asia Pacific, representing 30% of the global total and a 4 percentage point increase from the 26% it represented in 2009. The same is true for cargo where Asia Pacific will account for 28% of global volumes,” said Bisignani.
He added that more efficient air traffic management, airport facilities and security programmes were needed to realise the economic growth potential that this would bring, and that industry and governments would be challenged to work together more closely.
“The shadow of the global economic recession is expected to remain over parts of the industry for some time to come. Sluggish growth rates in Europe and North America are not only the result of being mature markets. Lingering consumer debts, high unemployment and austerity measures will dampen growth rates,” he concluded.