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Sydney Airport passenger traffic plunges 97%

written by Adam Thorn | April 20, 2020

A file image of Virgin Australia Boeing 737-800 VH-YFW. (Seth Jaworski)
A Virgin Australia Boeing 737-800 at Sydney Airport. (Seth Jaworski)

Sydney Airport’s international passenger traffic decreased 96 per cent in March and domestic 97 per cent, as coronavirus restrictions took effect.

The business also announced on Monday it had secured an additional $850 million of bank debt facilities, to give it combined liquidity of $2.8 billion.

However, the airport is soon likely to receive a boost in numbers with hundreds of domestic flights returning to the air as a result of the government’s decision to underwrite a minimum network last week.

Total traffic for the month of March, though, was 2 million passengers, down 45 per cent on the corresponding period last year. International traffic was just 700,000 and domestic 1.3 million.

To combat the falling numbers, the airport has acquired $850 million of new two- and three-year bank debt facilities. In total, the business now has $430 million available cash, $1.75 billion of undrawn bank facilities and approximately $600 million of new USPP bond market debt for a combined liquidity of $2.8 billion.


The airport said in a statement that, “Given the strength of our balance sheet and liquidity position, at this time we do not see the need to raise equity.”

In addition, the airport’s directors have reduced their fees by 20 per cent for the three months commencing 1 April.

Australian Aviation has also reported that the government has granted approval for Sydney Airport to use the shortest of its three runways to store grounded aircraft.

The east-way runway has doubled its capacity to accommodate 50 planes.

Traditionally, the strip accounts for less than one in 10 take-off and landings and is used during bad weather or under noise-sharing arrangements.

It’s currently estimated that Qantas and Jetstar have grounded 200 of their 316 aircraft, and Virgin and Tigerair 105.

Similarly, Canberra Airport’s passenger terminal closed last week for two days due to no scheduled domestic or international flights departing.

Meanwhile, last week’s government intervention to underwrite domestic routes, to the value of $165 million, will see flights operated by the Qantas Group increase from 105 to 164 per week; as Virgin shifts from only running Sydney-Melbourne services to now flying 64 return services.

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Comments (2)

  • Red Cee


    Where are the figures for large passenger increases coming from, given many states have mandatory fourteen day lockdowns for people from interstate?

  • A Berry


    What happens when strong winds make it impossible for the state’s air ambulances to operated on the north-south runways and 07/25; the third runway is full of grounded commercial aircraft?

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