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Middle East among fastest growing air passenger regions
October 28, 2017, 4:18 pm

The Middle East is set to become the second fastest growing region globally, right behind Africa, says a new report by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). With a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5 percent, the Middle East will add an extra 322 million passengers a year by 2036, to take the total market size to 517 million passengers said the IATA.

In the latest update to its ’20-Year Air Passenger Forecast’ the IATA projected that based on a CAGR of 3.6 percent in passenger volume, around 7.8 billion passengers would be traveling by air in 2036, this is nearly double the 4 billion passengers expected to fly in 2017.

In the same time interval, Africa will be the fastest growing region with a CAGR of 5.9 percent, which will see the region add an extra 274 million passengers a year for a total of 400 million passengers. Many of the fastest-growing markets, achieving a CAGR of more than 7.2 percent per year, will also be in Africa and includes countries such as Sierra Leone, Benin, Mali, Rwanda, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Senegal, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Tanzania, Malawi, Chad, Gambia and Mozambique.

Meanwhile, the biggest driver of air traffic demand will the Asia-Pacific region with more than half the new passengers over the next two decades coming from that area, noted the IATA, the organization which represents more than 85 percent of global airlines.

The report notes that China is set to become the world’s largest aviation traffic market by 2022, dislodging the United States from the top rank two years earlier than previously predicted. The report added that India will overtake the UK to become the third largest air traffic market by 2025, and Indonesia will push the UK to fifth place by 2035. Thailand and Turkey will enter the top ten largest markets, while France and Italy will fall in the rankings to 11th and 12th respectively.

Saying that the world needs to prepare for a doubling of passengers in the next 20 years, the Director-General and CEO of IATA, Alexandre de Juniac said, “While this is fantastic news for the airline industry, it is also a huge challenge for governments and the industry to ensure we can successfully meet this essential demand.

Warning of a number of risks to its forecast, the IATA noted that maximizing the potential benefits of aviation growth would depend on current levels of trade liberalization and visa facilitation being maintained. If trade protectionism and travel restrictions are put in place, the benefits of air connectivity will decline, as growth could slow to 2.7 percent, meaning 1.1 billion fewer passengers would journey by air annually in 2036. Conversely, if moves towards  liberalization increase, annual growth could be more than two percentage points faster, leading to a tripling in passengers over the next 20 years, reported IATA.

Planning for growth will require partnerships to be strengthened between the aviation industry, communities and governments to expand and modernize infrastructure. Pointing out that in the coming years, runways, terminals, and ground access to airports will come under increasing strain, The IATA called for innovative solutions to these challenges, as well as to the baggage and security processes, cargo handling, and other related activities.

The airlines’ association also urged reforms to air traffic management to cut delays, costs and emissions. “Increasing demand will bring a significant infrastructure challenge. The solution does not lie in more complex processes or building bigger and bigger airports, but in harnessing the power of new technology to move activity off-airport, streamline processes and improve efficiency. Through partnerships within the industry and beyond, we are confident that sustainable solutions for continued growth can be found,” said de Juniac. 


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