Airbus says the number of airline passengers to New Zealand's top three cities will nearly double to 38 million by 2036.

In its latest market forecast the company says the passenger aircraft fleet above 100 seats serving Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific region would grow by more than 600 aircraft, almost doubling in the next 20 years to more than 1350 aircraft.

About 360 of this larger fleet will be single aisle and 250 will be twin aisles, including 50 aircraft with 400 or more seats.

The forecast shows that New Zealanders are among the world's most frequent travellers.

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New Zealand leads on 4.0 trips per capita in 2016, and Australia 3.1, the United States on 1.8, China 0.4 and India at 0.1.

This is set to grow in 2036 to 5.6 for New Zealand, 4.9 for Australia, 2.5 for the US, 1.3 for China and 0.4 for India.

In New Zealand, both inbound and outbound tourism combined has doubled every 10 years since 1995.

A relaxation of border procedures, notably with China and India, has led to inbound tourism from China tripling in the last 10 years and tourism from India growing at 12 per cent a year.

With long distances and island states with a reliance on air transportation, the Australia-South Pacific inter regional growth would match the world average 4.4 a year, outstripping other established aviation markets such as the US, Japan and Europe averaging 3.7 per cent.

The Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific economy is set to almost double its size to US$2.7 trillion (NZ$3.95t) by 2036, and its population to increase by 25 per cent from 40 to 50 million in 20 years.

Combined with an additional 11 million people who can be defined as middle class, representing 95 per cent of the population by 2036, these drivers will continue to stimulate growth of the region's air traffic, Airbus said.

In its latest global forecast, Airbus predicts the worldwide demand for new passenger aircraft above 100 seats to more than double in the next 20 years to just on 35,000 planes, as traffic is set to grow at 4.4 per cent per year.

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A doubling of the commercial fleet between 2017 and 2036 would also see a commensurate need for 530,000 new pilots and 550,000 new maintenance engineers for the 34,170 passenger and 730 freighter aircraft worth a combined total of US$5.3 trillion.