Forecasts of Scheduled Passenger and Freight Traffic

The new long-term traffic forecasts are developed for passenger/freight traffic, aircraft movements, and related parameters, supporting planning purposes of airlines, airports, air navigation systems and others. These global and regional forecasts used 2018 as a baseline and have a twenty-year horizon and are issued biennially or triennially. The previous ICAO long-term traffic forecasts were developed using the year 2015 as a baseline.  


Passenger forecasts 

Similar to the previous long-term traffic forecasts, passenger traffic data were segmented into 40 international and 10 domestic route groups. The 50 route groups were also assigned to six different “tiers” according to the income level and market maturity in the same manner as previous forecasts. The income thresholds to segregate the tiers were updated from the most recent World Bank of low, lower-middle, upper-middle and high-income economies.
After reviewing the original econometric model with a series of diagnostic tests, it was decided to use the same model as the previous forecasts which captures the main economic and demographic drivers of air traffic demand and best fits the input data. The model examines how passenger demand (passenger traffic in Revenue Passenger-Kilometers) is affected by real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita and cost of travel (airfares), and predicts annual change in RPKs for each route group.
Economic and demographic data were sourced from the International Transport Forum at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (ITF-OECD). 

Freight forecasts

Demand for freight is measured in Freight Tonne-Kilometres (FTKs) by region of air carrier registration. The historical time-series data set of FTKs at the regional level were extended from 1995–2015 to 1995–2018 for both international and domestic operations. The data sets were compiled from the similar sources as for the passenger forecasts. Economic data was taken from the same source as the passenger traffic forecasts and aggregated by region to preserve the relatively large heterogeneity amongst the different regions in terms of the relationship between FTKs and real GDP. Forecasting model remains similar to previous freight forecasts.

Forecasts results

According to the latest ICAO's forecasts (using 2018 baseline), global passenger traffic will grow at 4.2 per cent annually from 2018 to 2038. All route groups involving Central Southwest Asia are among the Top 10 fastest growing ones, and Middle East – Southwest Asia is estimated to have the highest growth rate at 8.8 per cent annually up to 2038. Route groups in and between Africa, Central America/Caribbean and the Middle East are expected to grow around the global pace. Lower growth rates are estimated for route groups in and between mature markets, including Europe, North America, and North Asia.
Global freight traffic is expected to grow at 3.5 per cent annually from 2018 to 2038. Three regions, the Middle East, Africa and Asia/Pacific, will exceed the global growth, with the former having the highest annual growth outpacing global estimate by about 2.7 percentage points. This is followed by North America which is estimated to grow at a slightly slower pace to the global estimate. Europe will grow at half the pace than the global estimate while Latin America/Caribbean has the lowest annual growth rate of 1.1 per cent.

Tables of the traffic forecasts are available at this link: Long Term Forecasts Tables


The updated traffic forecasts have been integrated into a newly-developed electronic interface, allowing States and other users to generate customized forecasts at different levels of granularity (for example, by route, country-pair, city-pair, and country of departure). For more information, contact

Share this page: