A sluggish economy and higher fuel prices will hold down airline growth until 2015, according to a U.S. Federal Aviation Administration forecast.
The number of fliers will reach 800 million in 2015 and 1 billion in 2024, according to the FAA. The agency in 2011 had predicted the industry would reach the 1 billion level three years earlier. The FAA uses the predictions to estimate staffing and equipment needs.
Revenue passenger miles, which take into account how many people fly as well as how far, are expected to increase faster than passenger totals alone, the FAA forecasts. The agency predicts an average annual increase of 3.2 percent in RPMs over the next 20 years, to 1.57 trillion by 2032 from 815 billion in 2011.