October 24, 2018 / 2:27 PM / 7 months ago

Airline passenger numbers could double to 8.2 billion in 2037: IATA

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) logo is seen at the International Tourism Trade Fair ITB in Berlin, Germany, March 7, 2018. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch/File Photo

MONTREAL (Reuters) - Airline passenger numbers could double to 8.2 billion in 2037, bolstered by strong demand in Asia, but global protectionism risks curtailing growth, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said in a 20-year forecast on Wednesday.

IATA expects a 3.5 percent compound annual growth rate in passenger numbers, according to the forecast. But director general Alexandre de Juniac told reporters that protectionism has already weighed on the group’s latest forecast, with 60 million fewer passengers now expected to fly over the next 20 years.

Reporting By Allison Lampert

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