Melbourne Airport has reported a decline in domestic travellers in 2011 as international travel rose strongly on the back of booming Asian tourism.
Nearly 6.6 million international passengers travelled through the airport in 2011, an 11 per cent increase over 2010. Headlining the growth, Chinese passengers were up 23 per cent as China Southern, China Eastern and Air China all increased their services to the Victorian capital. Travellers from the Philippines, Taiwan, Singapore , Indonesia, Brazil and New Zealand were all up by double digit percentages.
Traditional sources of tourists, by contrast, rose much more modestly, with US passengers increasing by 5.2 per cent and UK travellers up 2.1 per cent.
International travel by Australians also grew strongly, up 13.2 per cent as locals took advantage of the strong Australian dollar and a growing range of low-cost international air fares to holiday abroad.
Domestic travel, however, declined by 2 per cent to 21.4 million passengers, a drop attributed in part to the Qantas labour strife and the six week grounding of Tiger Airways, which is based in Melbourne and was forced to cut services after it returned to the air.
Total passenger numbers were up 1 per cent to 27.9 million.