A January 2011 report by the New York-based Regional Plan Association (RPA) makes plain aviation's importance to the global economy, and the world's social and cultural structures. "Without the ability to efficiently transport business and leisure travelers and time-sensitive cargo, both domestic and international business would grind to a halt. The leading economic sectors-financial and business services, tourism, pharmaceuticals, media and communications, higher education, and research and development-all rely on frequent air travel to many destinations. Having too few flights to handle demand will prevent millions from flying and cost the region thousands of jobs and billions of dollars."
China would doubtless agree with the assessment that airport capacity is essential to economic success. The country has built 45 new airports in the past five years and is planning another 52 by 2020. In Asia-Pacific in general-now the world's largest aviation market-new airports have been a response to, and driver of, economic growth. It is no coincidence that three of the world's five largest airlines by market value are from the region. By 2030, the region will handle 80 percent more traffic than Europe, according to Airports Council International.
Indeed, the world will look very different in 2030 as Asia's booming middle class demands new connections and frequencies. Meeting that demand cannot be isolated to one region, however. Capacity has to be built in all parts of the network to avoid bottlenecks that could limit potential growth.
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