What is aviation forecast

Global air traffic will increase by around 3.7 percent annually over the next 20 years

For the first time in the world, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) has created a global forecast model for air traffic, taking airport capacities and fleet development into account. In the next 20 years, the researchers expect an increase in passenger numbers from around 4 billion in 2016 to over 9.4 billion in 2040. The number of flights will grow from 35.5 million to around 53 million in the same period, which is an annual increase of 1.6 percent. The researchers therefore expect the increased use of larger aircraft to avoid capacity bottlenecks, with an average of 179 passengers per flight on board in 20 years. In the reference year 2016, there were only 111 passengers.

"Despite the enormous increases in global air traffic and the increased use of larger aircraft, we expect that around 255 million passengers will not be able to be served in 2040 due to capacity bottlenecks," explains Dr. Marc Gelhausen from the DLR Institute for Airports and Air Traffic in Cologne. "That corresponds to more than the total German passenger volume in 2018 or three percent of the global air traffic forecast in 2040." This also includes capacity expansions at airports.

The forecast shows that 57 percent of the additional demand can be met by larger aircraft by 2040 and 43 percent through better capacity utilization and airport expansion.

Capacity bottlenecks are shifting to Asia

In the future, hubs such as London Heathrow in Europe will be hardest hit by the remaining capacity bottlenecks. The focus of such bottlenecks will shift towards Asia by 2040. Although major projects such as the new Beijing Daxing Airport are already being implemented, six of the ten most affected airports will be in Asia in 2040, including Jakarta and three in the USA, including Atlanta. "One advantage of our newly developed forecast model is its suitability for scenarios," explains Gelhausen. "For example, we have analyzed the effects of a third runway for London Heathrow. As a result, the results for this airport are not quite as critical."

The scientists recently published the global air traffic forecast in a book, analyzing individual regions of the world such as Europe, North America and Asia, as well as discussing selected airports. The book also contains strategies on how capacity bottlenecks can be minimized in the future. It should be noted that the entire analysis and prognosis of the book is based on an extensive empirical foundation, so that a realistic description of the future development is possible. "We come to the conclusion that an increased combination of airport expansions and investments in larger aircraft are necessary in order to resolve the expected capacity deficit."

New book published

The book Airport Capacity Constraints and Strategies for Mitigation - A Global Perspective by the authors Marc Gelhausen, Peter Berster and Dieter Wilken from the DLR Institute for Airports and Aviation has been published by Elsevier-Verlag. It contains extensive analyzes of global air traffic and capacity development at airports worldwide as well as a new and globally unique forecast model for air traffic that describes future passenger and flight movements taking into account capacity and fleet development. This results in a global air traffic forecast for the years 2030 and 2040. A major advantage of the model is that, on a uniform basis, comparable forecasts can be made for each individual airport worldwide and interactions are taken into account, such as the capacity situation at destination airports. The book helps to develop suitable strategies for action in order to improve the future capacity situation in air traffic.