The present trends in the global air transport suggest that passenger numbers could double to 8.2 billion in 2037 (Photo: KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images).

India is expected to surpass the UK to become world’s third largest aviation market (defined as traffic to, from and within the country) after China and the US around 2024, said International Air Transport Association (IATA) in its latest 20-Year Air Passenger Forecast on Wednesday (24).

China will displace the US as the world’s largest aviation market in the mid-2020s. The rebalancing of China’s economy towards consumption will support strong passenger demand over the long term, IATA said.

Indonesia is forecast to be a standout performer, climbing from the world’s 10th largest aviation market in 2017 to the fourth largest aviation market by 2030.

Thailand is expected to enter the top 10 markets in 2030, replacing Italy which drops out of the ranking.

The Asia-Pacific region will drive the biggest growth with more than half the total number of new passengers over the next 20 years coming from these markets. Growth in this market is being driven by a combination of continued robust economic growth, improvements in household incomes and favourable population and demographic profiles.

Fastest growing aviation markets in terms of annual additional O-D passengers from 2017 to 2037 (constant policies scenario) include China, the US, and India.

Accordingly, China is expected to add one billion new passengers for a total of 1.6 billion during 2017-2037 period followed by US 481 million new passengers for a total of 1.3 billion, and India 414 million new passengers for a total of 572 million.

The present trends in global air transport suggest that passenger numbers could double to 8.2 billion in 2037.

The latest update to IATA’s 20-Year Air Passenger Forecast shows that an increasing shift Eastwards in the center of gravity of the industry is behind the continued strong growth. Over the next two decades, the forecast anticipates a 3.5 per cent compound annual growth rate (CAGR), leading to a doubling in passenger numbers from today’s levels.

The association warned, however, that growth prospects for air transport and the economic benefits driven by aviation could be curtailed if protectionist measures are implemented by governments.

“Aviation is growing, and that is generating huge benefits for the world. A doubling of air passengers in the next 20 years could support 100 million jobs globally. There are two important things that stand out about this year’s forecast. Firstly, we are seeing a geographical reshuffling of world air traffic to the East. And secondly, we foresee a significant negative impact on the growth and benefits of aviation if tough and restrictive protectionist measures are implemented,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

IATA represents some 290 airlines comprising 82 per cent of global air traffic.