Airports Council International (ACI) World has published a new report forecasting air passenger numbers and the top markets for air travel demand over the next 30 years.

The World Airport Traffic Forecasts 2023 – 2052 report projects that global air passenger traffic will reach 9.7 billion by the end of 2024, finally surpassing pre-pandemic levels.

It is then forecast to double to 19.3 billion by 2042, with domestic traffic numbers set to hit 10.6 billion, and international traffic set to reach 8.7 billion.

In terms of the top 20 markets by total passenger traffic, China is forecast to have overtaken the US in top spot by 2042. India will remain in current third place, with Indonesia rising from 13th to 4th place.

However the UK is set to fall from its current fifth place (behind Spain) to eighth by 2042, with Japan and Turkey moving up the rankings.

Commenting on the news ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira, said:

“The projections indicate that global passenger traffic is set to reach 9.7 billion by the end of 2024, surpassing pre-pandemic levels, and suggest a doubling by 2042 and a 2.5-fold increase by 2052.

“In the long-term, the global passenger market dynamic is expected to transition from advanced economies towards emerging and developing ones as they experience significant urbanisation and population increases, often combined with rapid economic growth favourably impacting their disposable income and willingness to travel.

“Investing responsibly in current and new infrastructure remains key to ensuring that we can sustainably meet capacity growth to maximise the social and economic benefits of aviation.”

ACI Europe recently released figures forecasting a 7.2 per cent increase in passenger traffic this year compared to 2023, which would result in 2024’s figures being 1.4 per cent above pre-Covid volumes.

European air passenger traffic reached 95 per cent of pre-pandemic levels last year