Highlights from the ACI World Airport Traffic Forecasts (WATF) 2018–2040

Guillaume Rodier by Guillaume Rodier | Dec 1, 2018

Following strong results in 2017, domestic passenger traffic is expected to grow at an annualized rate of 5.7% over the next two years. The trend dampens in the long term, resulting in a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.5% for the 2017 to 2040 period. Growth will come largely from Asia-Pacific, Latin America-Caribbean and North America, together hosting 88.5% of all domestic expansion. Despite this steady upwardtrend, growth will come primarily from the international sector, forecast to grow at an annualized rate of 4.9% over the next 23 years. As of 2017, international traffic represents 41.4% of global traffic while the domestic sector stands at 58.6%. They are expected to almost reach parity around 2040.

global passenger traffic ACI World WTF

Chart 1: Contribution to global total passenger growth by metric and economics grouping (2017-2040)

The projected growth in international and domestic passengers is not uniform across all country markets and regions. Chart 1 highlights the proportions of global passenger growth by type (international, domestic) and economic grouping (advanced, emerging).

World Airport Traffic Forecasts (WATF)
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One key fact that emerges is that the growth of advanced economies is forecast to be almost two-thirds international. This is intuitive—countries that already have well-developed and saturated domestic markets are likely to face more opportunities for expansion across their borders rather than within. This can be attributed to an increase in propensity to travel, coupled with a multiplication of opportunities as emerging markets achieve greater levels of liberalization. On the other hand, emerging economies’ international and domestic sectors will both grow appreciably, respectively representing 33% and 36% of global passenger growth.

While domestic passenger traffic expansion is significantly stronger in emerging and developing economies than in advanced economies, international traffic shows high predicted growth across country markets of all levels of development. In the long term, it is expected that international traffic will catch up to domestic traffic in part because of this very dynamic. The expansion of emerging economies on the aviation market will also fuel advanced nations’ international passenger growth, further contributing to the sustained growth of international passengers worldwide.

Guillaume Rodier

Guillaume Rodier

Data Scientist, ACI World
Guillaume joined ACI’s Statistics and Economics team in 2016 as Data Analyst, Airport Traffic Statistics. In addition to his involvement in the collection, management and verification of monthly and annual airport traffic data, he leads the development and production of the World Airport Traffic Forecasts (WATF) every year.
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