Air transport is forecast to support 97.8 million jobs by 2036.

The contribution of the air transport industry in 20 years’ time

Several aircraft manufacturers, including Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier and Embraer, estimate the future demand for air transport in the form of revenue passenger kilometres. The most recent estimates suggest that demand for air transport will increase by an average of 4.3% per annum over the next 20 years. That implies that demand for air travel will increase by a factor of 2.3 over the period.

If this growth path is achieved, then in 2036 the air transport industry will contribute:

  • 15.5 million direct jobs and $1.5 trillion of GDP to the world economy;
  • Including indirect and induced contributions, 46.4 million jobs and $3.8 trillion in GDP;
  • Once the impacts of global tourism are taken into account, a total of 97.8 million jobs and $5.7 trillion in GDP.

The impact of lower growth: a sensitivity analysis

These forecasts are based on the air transport sector growing at the predicted rate. However, looking ahead 20 years is naturally fraught with uncertainty and unexpected political and economic events could throw these predictions off course.

Should moves towards a more protectionist and fragmented world continue, there will likely be an impact on air traffic growth, particularly international travel and air freight. Results of an analysis that explores the impact of this scenario show a reduction in the growth of aviation activity, with an average annual growth rate in revenue passenger kilometres of 2.6% for the next 20 years. This implies that demand for air travel will increase by a factor of 1.7 over the period.

If this more pessimistic scenario materialises, then in 2036:

  • Worldwide, there would be 1.9 million fewer direct jobs and $320 billion less GDP in the air transport sector.
  • Taking into consideration the direct, indirect, and induced impacts, there would be 6.5 million fewer jobs and $820 billion less GDP supported by air transport.
  • Once the impacts of tourism are included, the air transport sector would support a total of 12 million fewer jobs and $1.2 trillion less GDP than it otherwise would be.