Global air passengers may soar to 8bn a year
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has estimated that 7.8billion people will fly on commercial airlines in 2036 - almost double the four billion expected to fly this year.
And IATA has said that the Asia-Pacific region will account for more than half the new global air passengers over the next two decades.
The organisation has also predicted that China will become the world's largest aviation market, overtaking the United States, sooner than previously anticipated. IATA expects that to happen in 2022, rather than in 2024.
The accelerated timeline is due to slightly faster than expected growth in China and slightly reduced growth in the United States, according to IATA.
China will handle an estimated 1.5 billion passengers in 2036 compared to 571 million this year, IATA predicted. The United States will handle 1.1 billion in 2036, it added.
IATA also forecast that the UK will fall to be being the fifth-biggest air passenger market in 2025, when it will be surpassed by India, and then by Indonesia in 2030.
Europe should see passenger growth of about 2.3pc a year, to see 1.5 billion passengers in the region by 2036."All indicators lead to growing demand for global connectivity," said IATA CEO Alexandre de Juniac, the former CEO of Air France-KLM.
"The world needs to prepare for a doubling of passengers in the next 20 years," he added.
"It's fantastic news for innovation and prosperity, which is driven by air links. It is also a huge challenge for governments and industry to ensure we can successfully meet this essential demand."
Dublin Airport, Ireland's biggest, is expected to handle close to 30 million passengers this year and is hoping to see a new runway come into operation in 2021.
In an interview this month with an airport trade publication, Dublin Airport managing director Vincent Harrison said that the new runway has the potential to "open up connectivity to more challenging parts of our target markets, such as southeast Asia, South America and southern Africa".
Mr de Juniac said that increasing global air travel will result in a "significant infrastructure challenge" for airports.
"The solution does not lie in more complex processes or building bigger and bigger airports but in harnessing the power of new technology to move activity off-airport, streamline processes and improve efficiency," he said.
IATA also warned that if trade protectionism and travel restrictions are put in place, global air passenger growth could slow to 2.7pc per annum.