Think Airports Are Crowded Now? Wait Until 2040.

Nov 1, 2018

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Do you have TSA Precheck? You’re going to need it — within the next 20 or so years, at least.

Why, you ask? Well, according to the Airports Council International, by 2040, there will be a total of 20.9 billion trips taken by air travelers worldwide — which is 12.7 billion more than the number of passenger trips taken in 2017. Overall, passenger growth throughout the globe has a projected growth rate of an average of 4.3% per year. ACI’s data covers 110 countries worldwide. The metrics include projected total passengers (both international and domestic traffic), total air cargo and total aircraft movements up to 2040.

The bulk of this increase is said to be Chinese passengers, who are predicted to represent a 19% chunk of the global passenger traffic market with just under 4 billion air-travelers. The country alone is said to grow at a 5.5% annual passenger growth rate. That is high, and with China’s massive population, that is a lot of flyers.

But a few other countries edge out China for fastest growing numbers of air passengers in the world. The top four are: Vietnam (7.8%), India (6.8%), Saudi Arabia (6.2%) and the United Arab Emirates (5.7%).

Following China for the projected amount of air-travelers in 2040 are the US and India, with 3.1 billion and 1.3 billion passengers, respectively. When all three countries are grouped together, they comprise up to 40% of global passenger traffic.

“Passenger numbers are set to surpass 8.7 billion in 2018 and the global medium-term forecast shows almost 30% growth in passenger numbers from now until 2022,” says Angela Gittens, Director General of ACI World. “Aviation’s gravitational centre continues to shift eastward, because future growth in passenger traffic will originate from emerging markets, many of which are in the Asia-Pacific region.”

Even though this will be a great financial boost for the airport industry all around, the increase in air traffic and transportation demands could cause some issues to airport infrastructure with the rapid growth. “These physical capacity considerations and potential bottlenecks in air transport infrastructure pose challenges to the global industry in accommodating the strong forecast future demand,” Gittens says.

Cross-border disputes and nationalist trade policies may also have a negative effect on the passenger increase. Gittens says:

“Geopolitical tensions and protectionist policies that retreat from further economic integration and air transport liberalization could also have an adverse effect on the air transport industry.The aviation industry must come together to respond to these challenges and help to ensure communities continue to reap the social and economic benefits of air service growth. Policy at a national and global level should be focused on facilitating sustainable growth over the long term.”

Featured image by Classen Rafael / EyeEm via Getty Images.

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