Growing Air Travel Demand to Boost Cement Consumption

July 31, 2017, Washington, D.C. – Increased demand for U.S. air travel is expected to help drive increased cement consumption over the next 25 years, according to the Portland Cement Association (PCA). Population spikes, overall economic growth and airport expansion are among the factors driving the demand for more air travel, a recently released report from PCA shows.

“With more people traveling by air, you will need more capacity at airports – that means more cement is needed for concrete used in runways, terminals and other airport facilities,” said PCA Chief Economist and Senior Vice President Ed Sullivan.

According to the principal author of the PCA study, Brian Schmidt, there are several factors driving airport-related cement production, including business and leisure travel, as well as the need to move more cargo by air.

Personal air travel

The number of personal travel passengers is projected to grow to 910 million annual passengers by 2040, compared with 625 million in 2017. But depending on a variety of factors, the number of passengers could climb as high 1.015 billion annual passengers. Average annual growth could top 2.1 percent.

Business travel

The number of business travelers is projected to grow to as high as 409 million annual passengers by 2040, compared with 279 million in 2017. Average annual growth could reach 1.7 percent.

Cargo carried by air

Cargo freight tons are expected to climb as high as 21.0 million tons annually by 2040, compared to 12.7 million tons in 2017, representing an average annual growth of 2.2 percent.

PCA expects cement consumption in the airports market to approach 2.4 million metric tons annually by 2040 – possibly topping 2.6 million metric tons – compared with current levels of 1.5 million metric tons. Areas of airport-related cement consumption is likely to break down in the following way, PCA said:

  • Of the 2.4 million metric tons total, 65 percent, or 1.56 million metric tons, will likely be attributed to runway replacement.
  • Runway expansion is projected to contribute around 561,000 metrictons, accounting for about 23 percent of airport-related consumption.
  • New terminal expansion is expected to account for 11 percent of consumption in the airport market and generate around 267,000 metric tons of consumption.

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