International passenger growth helps Sydney Airport profit

An aerial image of Sydney Airport. (Sydney Airport)
Sydney Airport handled 348,522 aircraft movements in 2017. (Sydney Airport)

Strong international passenger growth has underpinned Sydney Airport’s nine per cent improvement in profit for calendar 2017.

The company reported statutory net profit of $349.8 million for the 12 months to December 31 2017, up nine per cent from $320.9 million for 2016, while handling 43.3 million passengers, up 3.6 per cent.

Revenue rose 8.7 per cent to $1.48 billion, domestic passengers rose 1.6 per cent to 27.4 million, and international passengers were up 7.2 per cent to 16.0 million.

Sydney Airport chief executive Geoff Culbert, who was handing down his first set of financial results since he replaced Kerrie Mather in early 2018, said it was a strong result.

“This result reflects management initiatives, investment, positive macro tailwinds from increasing global tourism and travel, our proximity to Asia, larger and more fuel-efficient aircraft and the continued liberalisation of air rights,” Culbert said in a statement.

“We actively developed new airline routes and new services and supported our airline partners as they delivered significant capacity increases and robust load factors.”

Culbert said the inbound travel market grew eight per cent, with increased passengers from a diverse range of markets including China, India, South Korea and Vietnam.

Meanwhile, Australian outbound travel remained “robust”, Culbert said, growing nearly six per cent in calendar 2017.

Sydney Airport said total aircraft movements grew 0.6 per cent to 348,522. Of those, “legacy four-engine aircraft” such as the Boeing 747 or Airbus A340 comprised fewer than 15 movements a day, down 68 per cent from an average of 38 movements per day in 2010.

Fewer than 15 movements a day at Sydney Airport are by ‘legacy’ quad jets such as the 747. (Seth Jaworski)

Further, 60 per cent of its growth in 2017 was from flights scheduled in “off-peak” periods, which was defined as after 1200.

Examples included Qantas’s Sydney-Beijing service, as well as Vietnam Airlines’ Sydney-Hanoi flights.

“Increasingly, our shoulder periods are filling out and airlines are filling the off-peak slots,” Sydney Airport said in a slide presentation accompanying the financial results.

In terms of Sydney Airport’s revenue, aeronautical charges, which made up about half of the airport’s total revenue and comprised payments from airport users for terminal and airfield infrastructure use, rose 8.6 per cent to $761.9 million.

Retail had the largest revenue growth, rising 12.7 per cent to $333.1 million. Rents from duty free shops, food outlets and other advertising made the second largest contribution to revenue at 23 per cent.

Car parking and ground transport revenue grew 2.2 per cent to $159.5 million, which represented 11 per cent of total revenue

Looking ahead, Sydney Airport said it would continue to seek new services.

“Together with our airline and airport business partners, we will continue to develop new and underserved routes and markets and support the growth of aviation in Sydney, NSW and Australia,” Sydney Airport said.

“Our focus for 2018 remains optimising the efficient use of our airport and investing efficient infrastructure to support the delivery of world-class facilities, operations and passenger experience.”

Tianjin Airlines Airbus A330-200 B-8959 is welcomed to Sydney. (Sydney Airport/Kurt Ams)
Tianjin Airlines began services to Sydney in January. (Sydney Airport/Kurt Ams)


  1. David says

    Meanwhile, foreign airlines are the winners, at the expense of Qantas and Virgin, who are hamstrung by a lack of planes.

  2. Kurt says

    I wonder how much effort goes into encouraging international LCC’s with the most expensive airport fee’s among Australia’s airports? Oh, and don’t forget noise and flying time restrictions. State government needs to buy it back. Sydney’s second airport with restrictions, is counter productive and will be another hurdle to growth in the region I feel.
    Just my 2 cents………