Chinese Travelers Becoming Largest Air Passenger Market Worldwide

A Chinese tourist in Rome
The Airports Council International World predicts that China would be the number one source for air passengers worldwide. (Photo: REUTERS/Max Rossi)

China is predicted to become the largest air passenger market with potentially 4 billion travelers comprising 19 percent of the overall worldwide air traffic industry by 2040.

The Airports Council International World predicts that by 2040, emerging and developing economies would account for more than 60 percent of the all passenger traffic.

The global traffic surpassed the 8.2 billion passenger mark in 2017 according to the World Airport Traffic Forecasts released on Nov. 1 by the AIC. This figure is predicted to double by 2034, growing yearly at 4.3 percent. By 2040, the rate at which it would be increasing is forecasted to reach between 4.1 and 4.9 percent yearly.

Both domestic and international air travel would drive a significant increase in the number of air passengers but growth would be primarily coming from the shares of international passenger traffic.

Next, to China, travelers from the United States and India would contribute 3.1 and 1.3 billion passengers respectively over the same period.

Together, China, the United States, and India would account for 40 percent of global passenger traffic. Other emerging economies that are expected to contribute more to the air passenger industry are Indonesia, Turkey, and Vietnam.

As for domestic passenger traffic, growth would be driven by the Asia Pacific region, Latin America-Caribbean, and North America. These regions would be accounted for 88.5 percent of all domestic passenger traffic expansion. Overall domestic passenger air traffic is predicted to grow at an annualized growth rate of 5.7 percent.

Another sector of air passenger traffic that would experience major growth would be the air cargo segment according to AIC. An estimated 20 percent of all air cargo would be handled in the United States while China and the United Arab Emirates would be the second and third largest markets for this segment. Together, China and the UAE would bring in a fifth of the estimated 203.4 million tons of global air cargo by 2040.

Meanwhile, Australia would want more slice of the 80 million Chinese tourists traveling the world yearly. While the Land Down Under has already seen 13 percent increase of Chinese visitors over the past year, Sydney Airport Chief Executive Geoff Culbert said the country needs to do more to attract Chinese tourists.

Australia was visited by about 1.3 million travelers from China during the year to March. While the Australia China Business Council predicts the figure to jump 3.3 percent by 2026, Culbert said his country remained to be excluded from the top 10 lists of countries that Chinese tourists would want to travel.

Culbert believes that Australia should position itself more as a premier destination for the Chinese market which has proven to be a sustainable and lucrative market.

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