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Despite stalled growth in China, Brazil and Russia, a wave of newly middle-class travelers from the BRICs and beyond will start visiting international destinations in the coming decades — dwarfing the numbers we’ve seen thus far.
The IATA expects passenger growth to be followed by expedited airport screenings such as programs like PreCheck, which expanded to 35 airports in 2012, become more prevalent.
As crowded as airports have been over the holiday season, a new forecast predicts even more travelers will be hopping on planes in coming years.
The International Air Transport Association, a trade group, predicts that airports around the world will serve 3.6 billion fliers by 2016. That represents an average of 5% growth each year, adding about 800 million new fliers in four years.
But don’t worry, IATA’s leaders recently released a vision for the airport of the future that will move all these extra passengers fast and efficiently. The catch is that more passengers will be asked to give authorities detailed background information to get pre-screened, enabling them to get through security checkpoints faster.
The Transportation Security Administration already operates such a program — known as PreCheck — but only a fraction of the 1.8 million passengers who fly across the country each day use it.
“We encourage other governments to introduce a known-traveler program into the arena,” said Perry Flint, an IATA spokesman. “We simply need to get more efficient.”
Passengers will also benefit from advances in screening machines that will be able to evaluate liquids, aerosols and gels without having passengers remove them from carry-on bags, IATA predicts.
The goal will be to keep security lines from delaying passengers more than 10 minutes, Flint said.
By 2017, IATA predicts travelers won’t have to remove shoes, belts and watches. That’s a huge deal because an IATA survey found that removing shoes is the second-biggest gripe among travelers, followed by long screening lines.