ACI World’s World Airport Traffic Forecasts (WATF) 2023–2052 predicts air traffic expansion for the next three decades.


ACI World’s newly released World Airport Traffic Forecasts (WATF) 2023–2052 shares a good overview on how Air Traffic will evolve between now and 2052 which is (for now) the only report able to do so for the decades ahead.

The report shows that global passenger traffic is set to double over the next 20 years, with China replacing the US as the world’s biggest aviation market.

Besides this, the report also shows the evolution of traffic in India, Indonesia and Vietnam which means that 6 out of 10 countries in the future Top 10 are based in Asia, the UAE takes a Top 20 position as only Middle Eastern country just like Brazil for Latin America. The rest of the Top 20 consists of European and Asian countries besides of course the US (on the second position by 2052 surpassed by China).

The forecast predicts that 2024 will pass 2019 numbers with the projection that 9.7 billion passengers will pass through the world’s airports this year. 

Looking ahead, projections suggest a steady growth trajectory for global passenger traffic, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.3% expected between 2023 and 2042. With growth rates expected to normalise by 2052.

The report also looks into the cargo market with a recovery foreseen for this year and long-term forecasts showing a steady growth in air cargo tonnage, but overall at a slower pace compared to passenger traffic.

The report draws data from 141 countries, including 29 new ones and provides detailed forecasts for passengers, air cargo volumes, and aircraft movements.

The report is not free but ACI World made a good summary available which can be found here.