India to become 3rd largest air passenger market in a decade; China to lead: IATA

India will displace the United Kingdom as the third-largest market in 2026, with Indonesia rising to number five in the world


JetAirways-insideThe International Air Transport Association (IATA) has released its passenger growth forecast, projecting that passenger numbers are expected to reach seven billion by 2034, with a 3.8 per cent average annual growth in demand (2014 baseline year). That is more than twice the 3.3 billion who flew in 2014 and exactly twice as many as the 3.5 billion expected in 2015.

India will displace the United Kingdom as the third-largest market in 2026, with Indonesia rising to number five in the world. Japan, Spain, Germany and France fall relative to their competitors, Italy falls out of the top 10, while Brazil moves from 10th place to seventh. China is expected to overtake the United States as the world’s largest passenger market by 2029. In 2034 China will account for some 1.19 billion passengers, 758 million more than 2014 with an average annual growth rate of 5.2 per cent. Traffic to, from and within the US is expected to grow at an average annual growth rate of 3.1 per cent, that will see 1.16 billion passengers by 2034 (523 million more than 2014).

The five fastest-increasing markets in terms of additional passengers per year over the forecast period will be China (758 million new passengers for a total of 1.196 billion), the US (523 million new passengers for a total of 1.156 billion), India (275 million new passengers for a total of 378 million), Indonesia (132 million new passengers for a total of 219 million) and Brazil (104 million new passengers for a total of 202 million).

In terms of routes, Asian, South American and African destinations will see the fastest growth, reflecting economic and demographic growth in those markets. Indonesia-East Timor will be the fastest growing route, at 13.9 per cent, followed by India-Hong Kong (10.4 per cent), Within Honduras (10.3 per cent), Within Pakistan (9.9 per cent) and UAE-Ethiopia (9.5 per cent)

Tony Tyler, director general and CEO, IATA, said, “The demand for air transport continues to grow. There is much work to be done to prepare for the 7 billion passengers expected to take the skies in 2034.”

A sizable gulf has opened up between the performance of air passenger markets in the BRIC economies (Brazil, Russia, India and China). China and India are growing fast, with annual growth this year-to-date of 12.5 per cent and 16.5 per cent respectively. India has bounced back from a subdued 2014, and is seeing a strong increase in domestic frequencies. Although China’s growth rate has moderated, it is still on course to add an additional 230 million passenger journeys between 2014 and 2019. This is more than double the other three BRIC nations put together. Brazil and Russia, by contrast, are struggling. Falling oil and other commodity prices are partly to blame. Economic sanctions have also affected the Russian economy. It is notable that airlines in Brazil pay some of the highest fuel charges in the world; bringing the country’s fuel policy in line with global standards would certainly be a boost for air transport.

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