Most medical tourists travel by air, so a forecast of air passengers in the next 20 years is a useful planning tool, and it has some surprises. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has released its first 20-year passenger growth forecast, projecting that passenger numbers are expected to reach 7.3 billion by 2034.
Most medical tourists travel by air, so a forecast of air passengers in the next 20 years is a useful planning tool, and it has some surprises.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has released its first 20-year passenger growth forecast, projecting that passenger numbers are expected to reach 7.3 billion by 2034. That represents a 4.1% average annual growth in demand that will result in more than a doubling of the 3.3 billion passengers expected to travel in 2014.
China will overtake the United States as the world’s largest passenger market (defined by traffic to, from and within) by 2030. Both are expected to remain the largest by a wide margin. In 2034 flights to, from and within China will account for 1.3 billion passengers, 856 million more than 2014 with an average annual growth rate of 5.5%. Traffic to, from and within the US is expected to grow at an average annual growth rate of 3.2% that will see 1.2 billion passengers by 2034 (559 million more than 2014).
The ‘Global Passenger Forecast’ report, from the new IATA Passenger Forecasting service, produced in association with Tourism Economics, analyses passenger flows for the next 20 years, forecasting passenger numbers by way of three key demand drivers: living standards, population and demographics, and price and availability.
By 2034, the five fastest-increasing markets in terms of additional passengers per year will be China (856 million new passengers), the US (559 million), India (266 million), Indonesia (183 million) and Brazil (170 million).
Eight of the ten fastest-growing markets in percentage terms will be in Africa. The Central African Republic, Madagascar, Tanzania, Burundi and Kuwait are the five fastest-growing markets.
Asian and South American destinations will see the fastest growth, reflecting economic and demographic growth in those markets.
While improving living standards, population and demographics, and price and availability create the conditions for improved demand, there is potential for policy-induced obstacles to hinder the development of connectivity. Meeting the potential demand will require government policies that support the economic benefits that growing connectivity makes possible. Airlines can only fly where there is infrastructure to accommodate them. People can only fly as long as ticket taxes do not price them out of their seats. Air connectivity can only thrive when nations open their skies and their markets.
The United States will remain the largest air passenger market until around 2030, when it will drop to number 2, behind China. Cumulatively over the next 20 years the US will carry 18.3 billion more passengers and China 16.9 billion.
Currently the ninth largest market, India will see a total of 367 million passengers by 2034, an extra 266 million annual passengers compared to today. It will overtake the United Kingdom (148 million extra passengers, total market 337 million) to become the 3rd largest market around 2031.
Reflecting a declining and ageing population, Japanese air passenger numbers will grow just 1.3% per year and decline from the 4th largest market in 2014 to the 9th largest by 2033.