The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has made the projection that airline passenger travel will nearly double over the next two decades, according to its annual forecast.

FAA has forecast that the U.S. air industry will have 732 million passengers in 2012, a figure that will rise to 746 million next year, and in due course to 1.2 billion in 2032.

Over the long term, we see a competitive and profitable industry characterized by increasing demand for air travel and airfares growing more slowly than inflation, the FAA Aerospace Forecast Fiscal Years 2012-2032 stated. Going into the next decade, there is cautious optimism that the industry has been transformed from that of a boom-to-bust cycle to one of sustainable profits, the report added.

In 2011, the U.S. air industry saw a growth of 3.5 percent in the number of passengers. “This year, more people will be flying more miles, and we expect that to continue in future years,” said FAA Acting Administrator Michael Huerta in a statement. “The American people deserve an aviation system that can keep pace with our increasing reliance on air travel,” he added.

At the same time, the report has stated that for the next five years the growth will be moderate. It is expected to cross the mark of 1 billion passengers in 2024. The report has also indicated that higher oil prices could have a damaging impact on the profitability of the industry, which, in turn, could result in an increase in the air travel expenses for passengers.

The report has also added that travel between the U.S. and South America will register the highest growth, followed by travel between the U.S. and Asia.