IATA forecasts passenger traffic to reach 2.75 billion by 2011

International passenger demand is expected to rise from 760 million passengers in 2006 to 980 million in 2011 at an annual average growth rate (AAGR) of 5.1 per cent. This will be lower than the 7.4 per cent AAGR recorded during 2002-2006, largely due to slightly slower global economic growth.

Domestic passenger demand is expected grow from 1.37 billion passengers in 2006 to 1.77 billion in 2011, an AAGR of 5.3 per cent, fuelled by expansion in the Indian and Chinese domestic markets.

"The numbers clearly show that the world wants to fly, said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA''s director general and CEO. "And it also needs to fly. Air transport is critical to the fabric of the global economy, playing a critical role in wealth generation and poverty reduction. The livelihoods of 32 million people are tied to aviation, accounting for $3.5 trillion in economic activity."

"A looming infrastructure crisis could put these benefits at risk. And failure to prepare adequately to meet demand will have an environmental cost with inefficient use of airspace and delays. There is no panacea, but the starting point for a sustainable solution is a common vision for efficiency that is acted on by governments and industry. With infrastructure planning timelines measured in decades, there is no time to lose."

Bisignani added, "Parts of the world are effectively managing infrastructure development to anticipate and meet demand-particularly the Middle East and China. But the enormous anticipated expansion in India that has fuelled record aircraft orders could be cut short by insufficient airport and air traffic management capacity.

"The unprecedented delays nightmare in the US is a clear example of the paralysis that results when we miss the mark on effective planning. This is mirrored in Europe where governments still have not cleaned up the mess in air traffic management with an effective Single European Sky.