INTERNATIONAL. Global passenger traffic will more than double over the next 20 years, according to a new long-term forecast produced by industry experts DKMA.

Releasing the Global Traffic Forecast 2017 – 2036 this week, DKMA Director Damien Kobel said: “The forecast indicates that 17.4 billion passengers a year will use the world’s airports by 2036, up from 8.2 billion in 2017. More than half of the 9 billion additional passengers expected by 2036 will travel in Asia/Pacific, highlighting the dramatic shift from West to East that the industry will experience over the next 20 years.”

“By 2036, the passenger volume in emerging countries such as India and Indonesia will surpass that of traditional market leaders such as Japan, Germany and the UK”

The report foresees that global passenger volumes will grow by an average of +4.2% annually over the 20-year period. This momentum will be driven primarily by the growth of the middle class in emerging economies and by the recovery of more mature economies. The fastest-growing markets over the forecast period will be Asia / Pacific (+5.3%), the Middle East (+5.1%) and Latin America/Caribbean (+4.8%). Emerging markets, cumulatively, will account for nearly 70% of traffic growth.

DKMA Director Catherine Harmel-Tourneur said, “By 2036, the passenger volume in emerging countries such as India and Indonesia will surpass that of traditional market leaders such as Japan, Germany and the UK. During the same period, China will become the largest market in the world, surpassing the USA.”

Aircraft movements will grow at an average rate of just +2.6%, which indicates a trend towards larger aircraft with higher load factors (the average number of passengers per movement is expected to grow from 88 in 2017 to 116 in 2036). This increase of movements will require not only increased airport infrastructure but also investment in en-route and terminal air traffic control systems, DKMA said.

“During the same period, China will become the largest market in the world, surpassing the USA”

Freight operations will grow at a slightly lower rate than passenger traffic (+3.8% over the forecast period) with global freight volumes more than doubling by 2036. Again, Asia/Pacific will experience the strongest growth (+5.0%), further consolidating its position as the world’s largest freight market.

“While several ongoing and emerging events may impact passenger traffic demand in the short term, the global outlook is quite positive,” concluded Harmel-Tourneur. “Both the scale and speed of growth indicated by this latest forecast represent a daunting challenge for airports who will need to continue investing in order to meet future demand while guaranteeing the sort of high-quality experience that is essential to grow non-aeronautical revenue.”