China has the tendency to have the most airline passengers by 2040, says ACI

(CNN) – Think these lines at the airport are long? Fast forward for a few years and is going to be waaaay now according to new predictions that say the volume of global air passengers is more than doubled over the next two decades.

By 2040, air passengers will have a total of 20.9 billion travels, according to the International Airport Council, a global body representing the world's airports. This is a huge jump of travel from 8.2 billion passenger trips in 2017.
Where will these extra passengers come from? According to ACI, mainly from China, which is expected to surpass the United States to become the No. 1 country of origin for travelers traveling by plane.

Chinese passengers will make four billion air travel in 2040, accounting for almost 19% of global traffic, ACI says. US passengers will account for around 15% of the market, with India ranked third with 6.3%.

The enormous increase expected in the number of passengers is good news for the global aviation industry, which pours billions of dollars to upgrade existing airport facilities and build new ambitious.

However, ACI warns that more investment will be needed if global aircraft networks are to avoid a major bottleneck.

Angela Gittens, general manager of ACI World, says the rise of Asia-Pacific markets is a positive development, but a comprehensive plan is needed for years to come.

"While this is welcome, the growing demand for air transport is threatening to overcome current and planned airport infrastructure in many parts of the world," he says. "These estimates of physical capacity and potential bottlenecks in aviation infrastructure are challenges for global industry in terms of satisfying anticipation of future demand."

Geopolitical tensions

Despite the upcoming traffic forecasts, Gittens says cross-border disputes and nationalist trade policies, such as those favored by the US government, may cause numbers to change.

"The geopolitical tensions and protectionist policies that move away from further economic integration and liberalization of air transport could also have a negative impact on the aviation industry," he says.

"The aviation industry must concentrate to meet these challenges and help ensure that communities continue to derive the social and economic benefits of developing air services." Policy at national and global level should focus on facilitating sustainable development in the long term.

Other nations that will attract the sky in increasing numbers in the next two decades will include Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the Philippines, according to ACI data covering 110 countries.

Fastest developing countries for passengers 2017-2040

1. Vietnam – 7.8%

2. India – 6.8%

3. Saudi Arabia – 6.2%

4. United Arab Emirates – 5.7%

5. China – 5.5%

6. Philippines – 5.4%

7. Indonesia – 5.4%

8. Colombia – 5.4%

9. Mexico – 5.4%

10. Malaysia – 4.8%