These days we think nothing of hopping on a plane in London for a breakfast meeting in Hong Kong, or jetting from New York to Rio just to attend a meeting. We are global, we are mobile, we are constantly in motion. But if you take a moment to consider just how interconnected our world has become, you will once again marvel at the magic that is international air travel.
As an example, Toronto’s airport (YYZ) offers direct connections to over 140 destinations, New York’s JFK reaches over 150. Day in and day out fellow road warriors are crisscrossing the globe, navigating a continent, or just flying across the state for business, pleasure or a little bit of both. We love this tool from OAG which lets you see all the destinations that you can fly direct to from a given airport on any given day. It spurs the wanderlust in all of us. And wanderlust is now a global phenomenon.
Airbus’ recent report, Global Market Research from 2011 to 2031, details the growing importance of China, India and Brazil and the impact that a burgeoning global middle class will have on air travel. As an example, the number of passengers flying each year will double from 3 billion to 7.5 billion in just twenty years, while the worldwide passenger fleet will grow by about 109% from 15,566 aircraft in 2011 to 32,551 aircraft in 2031. That’s over 32,000 planes for the average aviation geek to try to fly on. You better get started now!
Not surprisingly the main area of growth for passenger volume will come from the BRIC countries, however the developed economies of North America and Western Europe will still continue to yield large numbers of air passengers over the decades ahead. Here’s one stat that really caught our eye. Right now approximately 30% of the world’s population is considered middle class, over the next twenty years that number is projected to grow to over 60%. The middle class will grow five times in Asia-Pacific and emerging regions will contribute 56% of the world’s economic growth. For those keeping score, this means over 5 billion middle class consumers. No wonder air traffic will rise so dramatically.
How will all of this growth impact the obsession will all share with international travel? Well the skies will be more crowded. Total passenger volume will grow 4.7% from 2011 to 2031; domestic Chinese air traffic will surpass domestic US air traffic in the next twenty years; Gulf carriers will grow to an 11% market share; Asia-Pacific airlines will carry 32% of all traffic; and North American carriers will still retain a 44% share of volume. This will make London’s Heathrow (LHR) the busiest airport with Dubai (DXB) growing to become number two. Not surprisingly eight of the top twenty airports will be located in Asia-Pacific. Clearly there is a move toward the East.
Some people look at these predictions and see longer lines and more hassles, but not us. We see the future of passenger aviation as being bright and even more enjoyable. Rising incomes and larger passenger volumes will translate into better flights, newer technological innovations and easier, more frequent access to the far reaches of the globe. We love to travel and can’t wait to share our passion with the rest of the world. So what’s the next stop? Wherever you want it to be.