Led by Asia Pacific, airlines expect international air travel to grow significantly over the coming years, with an additional 800 million air passengers a year driving the annual total from 2.8 billion in 2011 to 3.6 billion in 2016.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) Airline Industry Forecast 2012-2016 outlook for system-wide passenger growth sees passenger numbers expanding by an average of 5.3% per annum between 2012 and 2016. The 28.5% increase in passenger numbers over the forecast period will see almost 500 million new passengers travelling on domestic routes and 331 million new passengers on international services.
The emerging economies of Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Middle East will see the strongest passenger growth. This will be led by routes within or connected to China, which are expected to account for 193 million of the 831 million new passengers over the forecast period (159 million on domestic routes and 34 million traveling internationally).
China also features among the world’s fastest growth markets, with five of the 10 fastest growing markets for international passenger traffic among the Commonwealth of Independent States or former Soviet Union, and others in Latin America, Africa and the Asia-Pacific region. Kazakhstan leads at 20.3% CAGR, followed by Uzbekistan (11.1%), Sudan (9.2%), Uruguay (9%), Azerbaijan (8.9%), Ukraine (8.8%), Cambodia (8.7%), Chile (8.5%), Panama (8.5%) and the Russian Federation (8.4%).
Passenger growth within the Asia-Pacific region (domestic and international) is expected to add around 380 million passengers over the forecast period. Asia-Pacific passenger traffic is forecast to grow at 6.7% CAGR, and traffic within the Asia-Pacific region will represent 33% of global passengers in 2016, up from 29% in 2011. This makes the region the largest regional market for air transport.