What are the 10 Fastest Growing Aviation Markets — and What Does That Tell Us About the World?

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:

  1. Myanmar (144% growth)
  2. Turkey (128%)
  3. Ethiopia (105%)
  4. Vietnam (96%)
  5. Indonesia (93%)
  6. Thailand (92%)
  7. Panama (88%)
  8. Qatar (84%)
  9. Kazakhstan (77%)
  10. 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.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Silly to look at this on a percentage growth basis since that will heavily skew toward countries starting from a very small basis of aircraft operations. The fact that Myanmar is at the top of the list is indicative – the country as a whole is starting from almost nil given it was only recently even opened up to international visitors.

  2. I was in Panama for three days last week and was astonished at how much new construction I saw everywhere. Panama City has a very nice, new Metro line, with a second line (which will connect to the airport) in the works. Costa Rica gets all the ecotourism press, but it’s comparatively over-touristed and overpriced. And Casco Antiguo (the old city) is very pretty. I think that Panama is going to be an exploding tourist destination. Go now before it gets too crowded. And I flew four segments on Copa and received eager and friendly service—I’ll fly them again.

  3. It is yet another attempt to hype a very banal and random observation. Where the aviation market is growing the fastest based on your list reveals no pattern at all, which means that it tells us absolutely nothing about the world…

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