While the Chinese market for air travel is growing fast, it will be about 2030 before that market is larger than that of the United States, which remains the world’s largest travel market. The United States has excellent data on its commercial air transport industry, which through examination of history can explain what we see today, and perhaps even provide a benchmark for growing markets elsewhere.

In the chart below we illustrate a history of passenger traffic, capacity, and load factors dating back to 1948. Commercial airlines were growing well up to deregulation in 1978, and have grown at a similar rate since.

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