Melbourne and Sydney airports have posted strong growth in overseas travellers in 2015/16 as they benefitted from the lower Australian dollar and new overseas airline services, new figures show.
In the 12 months to June 30 2016, Melbourne Tullamarine handled 9.2 million international passengers, up 9.5 per cent from the prior year.
Melbourne Airport chief executive Lyell Strambi said the standout for 2015/16 was the China market, which grew 21.9 per cent during the year helped by additional capacity from the likes of Air China, China Eastern and China Southern, as well as new low-cost carriers such as Scoot facilitating one-stop connections via Asia.
And with new services from Chinese carriers such as Beijing Capital Airlines flights from Qingdao and Shenyang launching in September and Air China’s Shenzhen service starting in November, as well as the recent arrival of Xiamen Airlines, the China market was expected to grow further in the period ahead.
“Our number one market for FY16 was China, which is testament to the strong relationship we have built with all of our Chinese airlines,” Strambi said in a statement.
“We will continue to grow this important market by welcoming more Chinese airlines.
“Ongoing airline investment in new and expanded services combined with Victoria’s compelling forward program of major sporting, business and major events gives us confidence that we can expect to see these growth trends continue into the coming financial year.”
Meanwhile, Sydney Airport had 14.3 million international travellers in 2015/16, up 7.5 per cent on the prior corresponding period. The airport posted a 19.6 per cent increase in Chinese visitors during the year.
Sydney is preparing to welcome more Chinese non-stop flights from Hainan Airlines – part of the stable of airlines at Virgin Australia shareholder and commercial partner HNA Group – to Changsha and Xi’an from September. Also, Xiamen Airlines was planning to boost its twice weekly service to Sydney to four times a week from the end of October.
Sydney Airport chief executive Kerrie Mather said it was an “exceptional result” for 2015/16.
International passenger growth was more sedate and Brisbane and Perth airports, where overseas travellers increased 3.9 per cent and 1.4 per cent, respectively.
Brisbane Airport chief executive Julieanne Alroe said the airport achieved steady and sustainable growth in 2015/16.
“We are pleased to have achieved the growth we have in FY16, in particular the growth seen in international travellers to Brisbane,” Alroe said in a statement.
The airport was set to benefit from the recent arrival of Air Canada on the nonstop Brisbane-Vancouver route in June, while Qantas alliance partner China Eastern would begin year-round service to Shanghai from December.
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In terms of domestic travellers, Sydney said it carried 4.1 per cent more passengers in 2015/16, while Melbourne posted a 3.7 per cent improvement in local travellers.
Melbourne Airport said its growth was “an excellent result, particularly when measured against softer growth rates across the national domestic market”.
Brisbane Airport, which grew domestic passengers by 1.5 per cent, welcomed new service from the likes of Fly Corporate (Coffs Harbour) and Jetgo (Dubbo and Albury) in 2015/16, which helped lift the number of domestic destinations served to 44, from 41 previously.
However, the domestic market out of Brisbane was impacted with reduced capacity to some Queensland ports as airlines responded to the downturn in the mining industry and weaker demand for fly-in/fly-out workers.
Perth Airport posted a 2.9 per cent decline in domestic passenger numbers.