Forecast Reflects Current Downturn, But 'Long-Term Prospects
The Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) annual aviation forecast, released Tuesday, predicts a return
to growth for air travel in the long term, underscoring the need
for vital aviation infrastructure and environmental improvements
contained in the FAA’s comprehensive Next Generation Air
Transportation System plan.
"A vibrant, efficient and green aviation system will play a key
role in our nation's economic recovery," said US Secretary of
Transportation Ray LaHood. "The Obama Administration is committed
to essential safety and efficiency advancements that will meet our
continued air travel demands."
Due to the current worldwide economic downturn, the FAA's
16-year forecast for 2009-2025 predicts domestic passenger
enplanements to decrease by 7.8 percent in 2009, and then grow an
average of 2.7 percent per year during the remaining 15-year
While last year the FAA predicted the US airlines would reach a
billion passengers a year by 2016, the updated forecast now
projects US airlines will reach that annual goal five years later,
by 2021. The number of passengers on US airlines domestically and
internationally is forecast to increase from 757.4 million in 2008
to 1.1 billion in 2025.
US aircraft operations are predicted to experience a 5.7 percent
decrease in 2009 from 2008 levels. Beginning in 2010, the agency
expects operations to grow at an average annual rate of 1.5 percent
for the remainder of the forecast period.
The FAA stressed its Next Generation Air Transportation System,
or NextGen, is a key to transformation of the ground-based air
traffic control radar system of today to a satellite-based system
of the future and necessary for FAA to meet the safety, efficiency
and environmental needs of the future. The FAA estimates that the
cost of delays currently averages approximately $9.4 billion each
year. Environmentally-friendly NextGen technologies and procedures
will increase capacity and safety and reduce fuel burn, carbon
emissions, and noise.
The FAA forecast was unveiled at an annual forecast conference
in Washington that gathers members of the aviation community to
discuss how the forecast projections may affect policies and plans