The JADC predicts an average yearly growth in the world’s RPK to be 3.9% between 2026 and 2041.

KLM Boeing 747-406(M) PH-BFW-1
Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

The Japan Aircraft Development Corporation (JADC), headquartered in Tokyo, facilitates commercial aircraft development projects by researching and coordinating resources. JADC studies and analyzes the need and resources appropriate for developing civilian aircraft. In June 2022, the Strategic Planning & Market Analysis Department at JADC released a comprehensive analysis report on the worldwide passenger traffic prediction for the next 20 years.

The researchers considered the effects of COVID-19 pandemic on the worldwide aviation market, the growing price of crude oil, and the world economic forecast by various regions. The results of these parameters on the revenue passenger kilometers (RPK) are described and used for forecasting the worldwide passenger market in the next two decades. The RPK is the number of revenue passengers times the number of kilometers flown.

The world’s RPK

The world RPK has been growing steadily for the past 30 years. Between 1989 and 1999, the average yearly growth in the world RPK was 4.7%. For the following ten years, between 1999 and 2009, the world RPK grew on an annual average of 3.7%.

Ryanair Boeing 737-8 MAX 9H-VUN
Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

With the abundance of low-cost airlines and cost-efficient aircraft in the passenger market, the world RPK saw a tremendous yearly growth of 6.6% between 2009 and 2019. The pre-pandemic world RPK growth prediction for the following 20 years (2020 to 2040) was 3.98% average yearly growth. However, 2020 started with a sharp downturn in the aviation market, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

After hitting rock bottom in the first half of 2020, slight growth in the RPK was seen. The aviation market saw slow growth until the summer of 2021, after which a rapid increase in RPK was seen worldwide. JADC reveals that it will be 2025 when the world RPK growth returns to the trajectory predicted before the pandemic.

That means recovery from the negative growth will be seen between 2021 and 2025. As such, JADC indicates the world RPK growth for the following 15 years starting in 2026. Assuming that a complete recovery (on the world level) from the pandemic is achieved by 2025, JADC predicts an average growth of the world’s RPK of 3.9% between 2026 and 2041.

British Airways Boeing 747-436 G-BYGE (2)-1

Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

This constitutes the RPK numbers from nearly 10 trillion in 2025 to over 20 trillion in 2041. The new prediction shows an RPK growth difference of less than 0.1% compared to the projections made before the pandemic. In terms of time, JADC indicates that these numbers translate into a lag of 1.2 to 3.6 months compared to the pre-pandemic forecast.

Growth by region

Of the world RPK growth, Asia-Pacific, Europe, and North America will constitute the most growth in the next 20 years. The Asia-Pacific region will see an annual RPK growth of 4.5%, resulting in a total RPK of nearly 7.5 trillion. Europe will see a 4.1% yearly growth, with an RPK of almost five trillion.

Air China (Smiling China Livery) Boeing 777-39L(ER) B-2035 (2)

Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

North America constitutes 3.6% annual growth in the RPK, with just over four trillion passenger kilometers. China will dominate the passenger traffic in the Asia-Pacific region with an RPK of nearly 3.5 trillion. With the estimated 4% average yearly growth in world RPK, airlines must take countermeasures for the reduced carbon footprint.

What do you think about the world’s passenger traffic growth in the next 20 years? Tell us in the comments section.


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