The International Air Transport Association estimates that by 2037, the number of air travellers worldwide will have doubled from present levels to 8.2 billion – and much of that growth will come from the Asia-Pacific. By 2030, the region is expected to account for more air travellers than the next two aviation markets – North America and Europe – combined. Where’s the growth coming from? China is at the centre of the boom and is forecast to overtake the United States as the world’s largest passenger market in the mid-2020s. India and Indonesia will take third and fourth place by 2024 and 2030, respectively, and Thailand is set to enter the top 10 markets in 2030, the IATA projects. Indonesia’s domestic airline market is now the fifth largest in the world. The country’s largest airport operator is looking to spend billions of dollars to expand Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport . Air passenger traffic in Southeast Asia grew by around 10 per cent in 2017, according to the CAPA Centre for Aviation. Six markets in the region – Cambodia , Laos , Myanmar , Thailand , the Philippines and Vietnam – enjoyed at least three years of double digit, or near double digit, passenger growth, CAPA said. Why does Indonesia have such a notorious air safety record? Tourism is driving Vietnam’s dramatic aviation boom. The country’s jet fuel demand will hit a record high, and airlines are expanding to keep up with the growth in foreign arrivals. Vietnamese airlines were recently cleared to fly directly to the US and code-share with American carriers. So why are airlines struggling to make money? Full-service carriers are facing stiff competition from rapidly expanding low-cost carriers. Of 20 publicly traded airlines based in Southeast Asia, only six made a profit in the July to September 2018 period, according to CAPA. Asia’s aviation industry is booming, so why isn’t it making money? Budget airlines account for 30 to 40 per cent of international seat capacity in Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines. In Malaysia , low cost carriers make up half of the market. Overcapacity in domestic and international routes is also cutting into the revenues of Southeast Asian airlines. What about Asia’s aviation disasters? Malaysia Airlines recently experienced two tragedies within the space of four months. Flight MH370 disappeared on March 8, 2014, while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The Boeing 777 carrying 239 people lost contact with air traffic control less than an hour after take-off. No distress signal or message was sent. Malaysia Airlines flight MH370: The unanswered questions Military radar logs showed the plane deviated from its planned northeastward route, turning west across the Malay Peninsula. It is believed to have crashed into the Indian Ocean after running out of fuel. The governments of Malaysia , China and Australia called off the two-year US$160 million official search in January 2017 without any answers about the aircraft’s disappearance or exact location. A second attempt to find the wreckage of MH370 was carried out on a “no-find, no-fee” basis by US-based company Ocean Infinity. The privately funded three-month search came to a close after finding no trace of the plane in May last year. The fate of MH370 remains a mystery. On July 17, 2014, flight MH17 was shot out of the sky en route to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam, killing all 298 on board the plane. The plane crashed in territory controlled by armed pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine. MH17: missile that downed Malaysia Airlines jet in Ukraine came from An international team of investigators concluded the plane had been brought down by a Buk missile that came from Russia’s 53rd anti-aircraft military brigade stationed in Kursk. Intercepted communications between separatist fighters suggest the rebels had mistaken the civilian plane for a Ukrainian military jet. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied any involvement in the downing of MH17, blaming the attack on Ukraine instead. On October 29, 2018, Lion Air flight JT610 nosedived into the Java Sea shortly after taking off from Jakarta, killing all 189 people on board. Lion Air crash: Boeing promises to reveal findings of investigation into technical issues The airline, which has a spotty safety record, said the two-month-old Boeing 737 MAX 8 had a technical issue on its previous flight and repairs were carried out before the aircraft was cleared to fly. But black box data revealed that the plane suffered an air speed indicator issue on three consecutive flights. Lion Air may cancel US$22 billion in Boeing orders Indonesia’s transport safety agency said the plane was not airworthy and should have been grounded after its penultimate flight. After a second fatal 737 MAX 8 crash in the span of five months, a number of carriers around the world have grounded the aircraft.