Global air traffic, which reached 8.8 billion in 2018, is expected to double by 2037, according to a report by Airports Council International (ACI) World.

The annual World Airport Traffic Forecasts (WATF) report predicts that global air traffic will grow at a rate of 3.7% per annum, reaching 19.7 billion by 2040.

According to the report, China will be the largest passenger market by 2031 and is expected to contribute 18% to global traffic by 2040, with around 3.5 billion passengers.

After China, the US will be the second-largest market with 2.9 billion passengers, followed by India with 1.3 billion passengers.

China, the US and India will together handle around 40% of global passenger traffic.

Indonesia, which is currently in tenth position, is projected to rise to fourth position by 2036.

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The report noted that the industry is ‘engaged in a high wire balancing act’ to cope with the rising demand for air services.

ACI World director general Angela Gittens commented: “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.”

According to the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation (EUROCONTROL), approximately 1.5 million flights will be unable to fly by 2040.

It also estimated that 470,000 passengers will face delays longer than two hours each day by 2040, compared to 50,000 passengers in 2016.

Gittens added: “Action must be taken to address this growing infrastructure gap. 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.”

Last month, ACI reported a 6.4% growth in global passenger traffic in 2018.