ASIA will be the fastest growing area for international air traffic during the next five years, industry forecasters say. A new report by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicts that from this year to 1999, four of the top 10 areas of highest passenger growth will be in Asia. Asia also will have the highest freight growth. In 1999, traffic in Central, Southeast, Northeast and South Asia will be equivalent to more than 80 per cent of that in Western Europe - the single largest traffic area. In the same period, IATA predicts total world passenger traffic will grow 6.6 per cent, slightly lower than the eight per cent registered last year. This year should see annual growth of 6.8 per cent, peaking at seven per cent next year. The rate of growth will then fall slightly but remain higher than six per cent to 1999. At these rates, the number of passengers on international scheduled flights in 1999 would be more than 450 million. Last year, 328 million were carried. Freight traffic is expected to continue growing faster than passengers. This has been a feature of the traffic recovery since 1991. IATA forecasts freight to increase 10.5 per cent in the next five years. This year should see 12.5 per cent growth in freight traffic, while next year will see 10.2 per cent growth. Continued double-digit growth would result in nearly 19 million freight tonnes carried on international services in 1999. In Asia, cumulative growth in air freight by 1999 is expected to be 83.4 per cent. The lowest growth will probably be registered in Europe where a cumulative figure of 45 per cent is expected. IATA's forecast covers 91 per cent of world international scheduled passenger traffic and was based on information collected last month. These figures supplement those released earlier by the Air Transport Action Group, a body formed by IATA, Boeing and Airbus Industrie. These estimated Asia's share of worldwide scheduled passenger traffic was 26.4 per cent in 1985, 35.3 per cent in 1993, and would be 41.2 per cent by 2000 and 50.5 per cent by 2010. The strongest growth to 2010 will be achieved by Vietnam and China. Vietnam's international traffic will increase by more than 1,300 per cent, from 1.2 million passengers in 1993 to more than 17 million in 2010. China's international traffic will increase by 647 per cent, from 8.3 million to more than 62 million passengers in 2010. The dominant traffic flows within the region are within Northeast Asia.