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Air passenger numbers to double by 2036

The airline industry expects the number of passengers to hit 7.8 billion by 2036, with China overtaking the US as the biggest market in five years' time.

The airline industry expects the number of passengers to hit 7.8 billion by 2036, with China overtaking the US as the biggest market in five years' time. Photo: Getty

Air passenger numbers will nearly double to 7.8 billion in the next two decades, up from 4 billion this year, the International Air Transport Association says in a new estimate.

Asian markets will be the strongest driver of this expansion, the industry group said on Tuesday in Geneva.

IATA predicts that China will overtake the US as the world’s biggest aviation market in about five years.

“Increasing demand will bring a significant infrastructure challenge,” IATA director-general Alexandre de Juniac said.

Although runways and terminals will become strained, Mr de Juniac said that building ever bigger airports is not the right solution.

Instead, airports should move some their activities to other locations and should try to become more efficient, the former Air France-KLM chief executive proposed.

While IATA expects passenger traffic to grow by an annual average of 3.6 per cent, it warns that trade protectionism and travel restrictions could slow down this rate to 2.7 per cent.

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