Passenger numbers to hit 3.6bn in 2016: IATA

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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates that the world's international airlines will carry around 3.6 billion passengers in 2016, an increase of 28.6% from 2.8 billion passengers in 2011.

These figures were revealed in the IATA Airline Industry Forecast 2012-16. This industry consensus outlook for system-wide passenger growth shows passenger numbers expanding by an average of 5.3% per annum between 2012 and 2016.

The 28.6% increase in passenger numbers over the forecast period will see almost 500 million new passengers travelling on domestic routes and 331 million new passengers on international services, says IATA.

International freight volumes will grow at 3% per annum to total 34.5 million tonnes in 2016, an increase of 4.8 million tonnes compared with 29.6 million tonnes in 2011, adds IATA.

The forecast also says the emerging economies of Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Middle East will have the strongest passenger growth. This will be led by routes within or connected to China, which are expected to account for 193 million of the 831 million new passengers by 2016.

Domestic and international passenger growth within the Asia-Pacific region is expected to increase by 380 million passengers over the forecast period.

The USA will remain the largest air travel market over the five-year period with 710 million domestic passengers and 223 million international travellers by 2016. Its growth rates will be below the global average of 5.3% for international travel and 5.2% for domestic routes, adds IATA.

Tony Tyler, director general and chief executive, IATA, says: "Despite the current economic uncertainty, expected demand for connectivity remains strong."

"Globally, aviation supports some 57 million jobs and $2.2 trillion in economic activity," he adds.