The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has projected that present trend in air transport suggests that passengers’ traffic could double to 8.2 billion by 2037.

Specifically, the global air transport association’s forecast anticipates a 3.5 per cent compound annual growth rate (CAGR), thereby leading to a doubling in the volume of air travellers from today’s levels.

In addition, the IATA’s forecast indicated that the world passenger traffic was moving to the east, which now forms the gravity of the industry, adding that China would displace the US as the biggest aviation market.

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.

The IATA’s Director General and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac, said: “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”, he added.

IATA study showed further that the Asia-Pacific region would drive the biggest growth with more than half the total number of new passengers over the next 20 years coming from these markets.

It stated that growth in this market was being driven by a combination of continued robust economic growth, improvements in household incomes and favorable population and demographic profiles.

The study noted that China would displace the United States as the world’s largest aviation market (defined as traffic to, from and within the country) in the mid-2020s, noting that the rebalancing of China’s economy towards consumption would support strong passenger demand over the long term.

IATA also disclosed that India would take third place after the US, surpassing the UK around 2024.

Other findings of the study reflect that Indonesia is projected to be a standout performer—climbing from the world’s 10th largest aviation market in 2017 to the 4th largest by 2030 and Thailand is expected to enter the top 10 markets in 2030, replacing Italy which drops out of the ranking.

The study noted that policy shifts were likely over time, remarking that should protectionism continue to expand in a “reverse globalisation” scenario, aviation would continue to grow, but at a slower pace and deliver fewer economic and social benefits.

IATA observed also that under a liberalised environment connectivity would generate significantly more jobs and GDP growth.