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 Led by the UAE, the aviation sector in the Middle East will achieve the highest growth in the world over the next two decades.

According to Iata forecast released on Thursday, the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia will all enjoy strong growth of 5.6 per cent, 4.8 per cent, and 4.6 per cent respectively by 2034.

The Middle East will grow strongly (4.9 per cent) and will see an extra 237 million passengers a year on routes to, from and within the region by 2034. The total market size will be 383 million passengers, it said.

Globally, Iata projected that the passenger numbers are expected to reach 7 billion by 2034 with a 3.8 per cent average annual growth in demand (2014 baseline year). That is more than double the 3.3 billion who flew in 2014 and exactly twice as many as the 3.5 billion expected in 2015.    

Previously, Iata forecast 7.4 billion passengers in 2034 based on a 4.1 per cent average annual growth rate. The revised result reflects negative developments in the global economy that are expected to dampen demand for air transport, especially slower economic growth projections for China.

At present, aviation helps sustain 58 million jobs and $2.4 trillion in economic activity. In 20 years’ time, aviation is expected to support around 105 million jobs and $6 trillion in GDP.

In terms of routes, Asian, South American and African destinations will see the fastest growth, reflecting economic and demographic growth in those markets. Indonesia-East Timor will be the fastest growing route, at 13.9 per cent, followed by India-Hong Kong (10.4 per cent), Within Honduras (10.3 per cent), Within Pakistan (9.9 per cent) and UAE-Ethiopia (9.5 per cent)

The five fastest-increasing markets in terms of additional passengers per year over the forecast period will be China (758 million new passengers for a total of 1.196 billion), the US (523 million new passengers for a total of 1.156 billion), India (275 million new passengers for a total of 378 million), Indonesia (132 million new passengers for a total of 219 million) and Brazil (104 million new passengers for a total of 202 million).

Seven of the ten fastest-growing markets in percentage terms will be in Africa. The top ten will be: Malawi, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Central African Republic, Serbia, Tanzania, Uganda, Papua New Guinea, Ethiopia and Vietnam. Each of these markets is expected to grow by 7-8 per cent each year on average over the next 20 years, doubling in size each decade.