Passenger traffic into Saudi Arabia to rise by 4.6 percent

The UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia will all enjoy strong growth of 5.6 percent, 4.8 percent, and 4.6 percent respectively

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The Middle East air passenger markets, defined by traffic to, from and within for the period 2014-2034, will grow by 4.9 percent and will see an extra 237 million passengers a year on routes to, from and within the region by 2034, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said in its first 20-year passenger growth forecast.

The UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia will all enjoy strong growth of 5.6 percent, 4.8 percent, and 4.6 percent respectively. The total market size will be 383 million passengers, the report noted.

Worldwide, the airline passenger numbers are expected to reach 7.3 billion by 2034, the IATA said in its first 20-year passenger growth forecast. That represents a 4.1 percent average annual growth in demand for air connectivity that will result in more than a doubling of the 3.3 billion passengers expected to travel this year.

Among the highlights of the report is the expectation that China will overtake the United States as the world’s largest passenger market (defined by traffic to, from and within) by 2030.

Both markets, however, are expected to remain the largest by a wide margin. In 2034 flights to, from and within China will account for some 1.3 billion passengers, 856 million more than 2014 with an average annual growth rate of 5.5 percent. Traffic to, from and within the U.S. is expected to grow at an average annual growth rate of 3.2 percent that will see 1.2 billion passengers by 2034 (559 million more than 2014).

The report, the first from the new IATA Passenger Forecasting service, produced in association with Tourism Economics, analyzes passenger flows across 4,000 country pairs for the next 20 years, forecasting passenger numbers by way of three key demand drivers: living standards, population and demographics, and price and availability.

The Global Passenger Forecast Report explains future trends in passenger numbers by means of three key demand drivers: living standards, population and demographics, and price and availability.

The United States will remain the largest air passenger market until around 2030, when it will drop to number 2, behind China. Cumulatively over the next 20 years the U.S. will carry 18.3 billion more passengers and China 16.9 billion.

Currently the ninth largest market, India will see a total of 367 million passengers by 2034, an extra 266 million annual passengers compared to today. It will overtake the United Kingdom (148 million extra passengers, total market 337 million) to become the 3rd largest market around 2031.

Reflecting a declining and ageing population, Japanese air passenger numbers will grow just 1.3 percent per year and decline from the 4th largest market in 2014 to the 9th largest by 2033.

Germany and Spain will decline from 5th and 6th position in 2014 to be the 8th and 7th largest markets respectively. France will fall from 7th to 10th while Italy will fall out of the top 10 altogether in around 2019.

Brazil will increase passenger numbers by 170 million and rise from 10th to 5th. Its total market will be 272 million passengers.

Indonesia will enter the top ten around 2020 and attain 6th place by 2029. By 2034 it will be a market of Routes to, from and within Asia-Pacific will see an extra 1.8 billion annual passengers by 2034, for an overall market size of 2.9 billion. In relative terms it will increase its size compared to other regions to 42 percent of global passenger traffic, and its annual average growth rate, 4.9 percent, will be the joint-highest with the Middle East.

The North American region will grow by 3.3 percent annually and in 2034 will carry a total of 1.4 billion passengers, an additional 649 million passengers a year.

Europe will have the slowest growth rate, 2.7 percent, but will still cater for an additional 591 million passengers a year. The total market will be 1.4 billion passengers.

Latin American markets will grow by 4.7 percent, serving a total of 605 million passengers, an additional 363 million passengers annually compared to today.

Africa will grow by 4.7 percent. By 2034 it will see an extra 177 million passengers a year for a total market of 294 million passengers.

However, the report noted that the fastest-growing domestic market will be China, which will grow at 5.6 percent per year and by 2034 will account for 1.0 billion passengers (691 million additional domestic passengers compared to today).

The United States domestic market will expand by 3.2 percent per year, to 822 million passengers, an additional 384 million passengers annually compared to 2014.

The Indian and Brazilian domestic markets will grow at 6.9 percent and 5.4 percent respectively. India will be adding 159 million extra passengers and Brazil 147 million. Their total domestic air markets will be Indonesia will be the fifth largest domestic market. It will grow at 6.4 percent, adding an extra 136 million passengers a year by 2034. The total Indonesian domestic market will be 191 million.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on Oct.19, 2014.

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