IATA revised its annual 20-year air passenger forecast upward by over a half-billion passengers Oct. 24, and indicated China will overtake the US as the world’s largest aviation market “around 2022,” several years faster than previously predicted.

In its new 20-year Air Passenger Forecast, IATA now predicts 7.8 billion passengers will travel by air in 2036, nearly doubling the 4 billion air passengers expected in 2017.

IATA highlighted the Asia-Pacific region as the primary source of over half the new passengers expected by the next two decades. China’s overtaking of the US as the world’s largest aviation market will come as a result of slightly faster Chinese growth combined with slightly reduced US growth.

In its aviation market forecast (defined as traffic to, from and within a country), IATA foresees the UK will fall to fifth place on the global scale by 2036, being surpassed by India in 2025 and Indonesia in 2030. Rounding out the top 10 markets in 20 years, in order, will be Japan, Spain, Germany, Turkey and Thailand. France and Italy will be out of the top 10 by about 2032.

“Increasing demand will bring a significant infrastructure challenge,” IATA DG and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said. “The solution does not lie in more complex processes or … bigger airports, but in harnessing the power of new technology to move activity off-airport, streamline processes and improve efficiency.”

China will be the world’s fastest-growing market, IATA forecasts, with the country adding 921 million passengers for a total of 1.5 billion passengers by 2036. The US will be the second-fastest-growing market, with 401 million new passengers for a total of 1.1 billion passengers, followed by India (337 million new passengers for a total of 478 million passengers by 2036), Indonesia (up 235 million new passengers, totaling 355 million) and Turkey (growing by 119 million new passengers to reach 196 million by 2036).

Looking at regional route growth, the Asia-Pacific will be the leader by 2036 with an overall passenger market size of 3.5 billion. Passengers are expected to increase at an annual growth rate (AGR) of 4.6% over the next 20 years, accounting for 2.1 billion extra annual passengers by 2036. The European market will have 1.5 billion annual passengers by 2036, up 550 million at a 2.3% AGR. By 2036, the North American market will carry 1.2 billion passengers, adding 452 million passengers at a 2.3% AGR. The Latin American market will total 757 million passengers, up 421 million from today at a 4.2% AGR. The Middle East will carry 517 million passengers annually by 2036, adding 322 million compared to day, at a 5% AGR, IATA said. The Africa region will serve 400 million annual passengers by 2036, up 274 million from today, representing a 5.9% AGR.

Additional information on IATA’s annual 20-year Air Passenger Forecast can be found here.

Mark Nensel mark.nensel@penton.com