China to Top the U.S. in Air-Travel Market Share by 2029

China is set to soar for the No. 1 spot in the world’s largest air-travel markets by 2029, according to a recent report by the International Air Transport Association.

The institute expects Chinese airlines to see 758 million new passengers in the next two decades bringing their total numbers up to 1.196 billion by 2034. The U.S. is expected to decline to the No. 2 spot with 523 million more people bringing the U.S. cap to about 1.150 billion.

The IATA also expects India to top the U.K. for the No. 3 spot by 2026.

In terms of air-travel market growth by percentage, seven out of the top 10 are expected to be African nations. These are Rwanda, Sierra Leone and the Central African Republic.

The institute also claims that if Cuba and Iran open up to air travel demand, they could see boosts in their share of the air-travel market as well. The IATA predicts Cuba could take on 5 to 13 million additional passengers while the Islamic Republic could see 12 to 44 million more passengers by 2034.

Still, the report doesn’t spell good news across the board. Overall, the IATA has determined that 400 million fewer passengers would take to the skies in 2034 than it had predicted last year.

“There is much work to be done to prepare for the 7 billion passengers expected to take the skies in 2034,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO. “Economic and political events over the last year have impacted some of the fundamentals for growth. As a result, we expect some 400 million fewer people to be traveling in 2034 than we did at this time last year.”

“Air transport is a critical part of the global economy. And policy-makers should take note of its sensitivity,” Tyler added. “The economic impact of 400 million fewer travelers is significant. Each is a lost opportunity to explore, create social and cultural value, and generate economic and employment opportunities.”

According to the institute, the aviation industry employs 58 million people and contributes $2.4 trillion to the global economy. The industry is expected to grow to 105 million employees and $6 trillion in GDP by 2034.

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