(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) The UAE will add 29.2 million passengers over the next four years at a compound annual growth rate, or CAGR, of 6.6 per cent as total global air passenger numbers are expected to rise to 3.91 billion by 2017, the International Air Transport Association, or Iata, said on Tuesday.
As airlines across the globe expect to see a 31 per cent increase in passenger numbers between 2012 and 2017, the Middle East will report the strongest international passenger growth with a 6.3 per cent CAGR, the global body said in its Airline Industry Forecast.
The robust outlook for regional air traffic comes in the wake of a stellar 14 per cent year-on-year growth in passenger traffic recorded by Middle East carriers in October, much higher than the global average of 6.9 per cent.
In 2012, a total of around 80 million passengers were handled by Dubai International Airport (57.7 million), Abu Dhabi International Airport (14.7 million) and Sharjah International Airport (7.5 million).
The Iata said that by 2017, total passenger numbers are expected to rise to 3.91 billion - an increase of 930 million passengers over the 2.98 billion carried in 2012.
Demand is expected to expand by an average of 5.4 per cent CAGR between 2013 and 2017.
"By comparison, global passenger growth expanded by 4.3 per cent CAGR between 2008 and 2012, largely reflecting the negative impact of the 2008 global financial crisis and recession. Of the new passengers, approximately 292 million will be carried on international routes and 638 million on domestic routes," the Iata said in its latest forecast.
The emerging economies of the Middle East and Asia-Pacific will see the strongest international passenger growth with a CAGR of 6.3 per cent and 5.7 per cent, respectively, followed by Africa and Latin America with a CAGR of 5.3 per cent and 4.5 per cent. The Montreal-based trade association of 240 airlines said routes within or connected to China will be the single-largest driver of growth, accounting for 24 per cent of new passengers during the forecast period. Of the anticipated 227.4 million additional passengers, 195 million will be domestic and 32.4 million will be international.
The Asia-Pacific region, including China, is expected to add around 300 million additional passengers by the end of the current forecast horizon. Of these, around 225 million or 75 per cent are expected to be domestic passengers.
With 677.8 million domestic passengers in 2017, the US will continue to be the largest single market for domestic passengers, although it will add only 70 million passengers over the forecast period (a 2.2 per cent CAGR). "The fact that the Asia-Pacific region - led by China - and the Middle East will deliver the strongest growth over the forecast period is not surprising. Governments in both areas recognise the value of the connectivity provided by aviation to drive global trade and development. Similar opportunities exist for developing regions in Africa and Latin America. To reap the benefit, governments in those regions will need to change their view of aviation from a luxury cash cow to a utilitarian powerful draft horse to pull the economy forward," said Tony Tyler, the Iata's director-general and chief executive officer.
"Globally, aviation supports some 57 million jobs and 2.2 trillion in economic activity."
While international passenger numbers are expected to rise by 25 per cent from 1.2 billion in 2012 to 1.5 billion in 2017, bringing 292 million additional passengers, the UAE will add 29.2 million passengers, nearly as many as China.
"For international traffic, routes between the Middle East and Asia-Pacific will see the strongest growth," the Iata said.
Uzbekistan (10.3 per cent) has displaced Kazakhstan (nine per cent) as the fastest-growing market for international passenger traffic.