Thailand is one of the world’s fastest growing aviation markets, so Thai Airways’ challenges can’t be pinned on the overall economy there or the military coup.
Kazakhstan has been fast growing as well. High oil prices supported the economy until recently; the trend in aviation thus may not continue depending on the direction of oil prices. Growth in Kazakhstan means air travel because the country itself is as large as all of Western Europe with a low population density.
The fastest growing aviation markets – based on the number of departing seats over the past 5 years, according to Airline Weekly – are:
- Myanmar (144% growth)
- Turkey (128%)
- Ethiopia (105%)
- Vietnam (96%)
- Indonesia (93%)
- Thailand (92%)
- Panama (88%)
- Qatar (84%)
- Kazakhstan (77%)
- Peru (74%)
The biggest growth comes in developing nations especially in Southeast Asia. Turkey is a real outlier, the growth in the Turkish aviation market is astonishing. (Turkish Airlines is fourth in the world for number of destinations served, and they serve the most countries at 110. The low cost carrier segment there is growing as well, such as Pegasus Airlines.)
Qatar stands out as the fastest-growing among the Middle East carriers — and the UAE is not next in line in the region (Saudi Arabian growth outpaces the UAE, albeit starting from a lower base).
China is only number 14, and number 22 looking just at year-over-year data (not surprising given its slumping economy). Still, China is the second largest airline market in the world behind the United States although the US market remains more than 70% larger than the Chinese one.
Markets where aviation is contracting include Spain, Italy, Nigeria, Bahrain, and Iran. In fact Iran has experienced a reduction in seats leaving the country of more than one-fifth over the past five years. That’s likely to change with the lifting of international sanctions.