Airports Council International forecasts global pax traffic to double by 2037

By Andrew Pentol |


Angela Gittens, Director General, ACI World .

Airports Council International (ACI) has today (30 October 2019) published its World Airport Traffic Forecasts (WATF) which reveal the airport industry is engaged in a ‘high-wire balancing act’ as it prepares to meet surging global demand for air services.

Having reached 8.8 billion in 2018, global traffic is forecast to double by 2037. In the long term, it is projected to grow at an annualised rate of 3.7%, reaching 19.7 billion by 2040.

China is projected to become the largest passenger market in 2031 and to dominate passenger rankings in 2040, with more than 3.5 billion passengers. This equates to an 18% share of the global passenger traffic market.

The US and India will follow, with 2.9 and 1.3 billion passengers respectively. Together, the three countries will handle almost 40% of global passenger traffic. Indonesia, currently the 10th largest market in terms of total passenger traffic worldwide, is expected to rapidly climb in the country rankings, reaching fourth position by 2036.

According to ACI, the airport industry faces a balancing act in meeting this strong demand. Airport operators already face capacity constraints and the prospect of surging airport transport demand outstripping available airport infrastructure.

ACI says that at the same time, the industry must contend with increased protectionism, isolationism and risks associated with climate change that could stifle this growth.

Heathrow Airport, Terminal 2A, check-in hall, November 2015.

ACI says airport operators must face the prospect of surging airport transport demand outstripping available airport infrastructure.

Angela Gittens, Director General, ACI World said:  “There is no doubt that the future of the industry is positive with ACI’s forecasts showing passenger traffic worldwide is expected to double to more than 17 billion by 2037.”

“In the short term, however isolationist policies have fuelled a retraction from decades of progress toward greater global economic integration which will inevitably restrain the efficient flow of people, goods and services.

“While it is evident air transport very much relies on open markets to grow, it is also evident that, in markets with strong air transport demand, airport operators already face capacity constraints that could limit growth.”


This year’s ACI Europe Airport Commercial & Retail Conference & Exhibition took place in Reykjavík, Iceland.

Action must be taken to address this growing infrastructure gap, according to Gittens. “Given that more than 200 airports already require slot coordination because they have insufficient capacity to meet demand, government regulators must come together with the aviation industry to ensure that existing capacity can be better utilised while facilitating new and improved infrastructure to improve efficiency and the passenger experience.

“The consequences of inaction are stark. We see for example that Euro Control projects that 1.5 million flights —the equivalent of 160 million passengers — will be unable to fly by 2040. An estimated 470,000 passengers will be delayed one to two hours per day in 2040, compared to 50,000 delayed passengers per day in 2016.”

Angela Gittens, Director General, ACI World delivered a presentation this morning at the 2019 Trinity Forum in Doha. The Trinity Forum is a joint venture between The Moodie Davitt Report, ACI World and ACI Asia-Pacific.

Stay close to for highlights from day one of the event.


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