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Queensland border closure hits Sydney passenger traffic

written by Adam Thorn | September 18, 2020

Australia's domestic carriers at Sydney Airport. (Seth Jaworski)
Australia’s domestic carriers at Sydney Airport. (Seth Jaworski)

Queensland’s decision to reshut its border to NSW caused Sydney Airport’s passenger traffic to plunge nearly 70 per cent, Australian Aviation can reveal.

In August, the airport welcomed just 91,000 domestic travellers compared with 276,000 in July.

Queensland opened up to NSW on 10 July but closed to Sydney on 1 August and then to all of NSW and the ACT just a week later. As the NSW-Victoria border shut earlier on 6 July, the figures suggest Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s decision was the crucial factor behind the drop.

In total, passenger traffic in August 2020 was 129,000 passengers, down 96.5 per cent on the same month last year.

Of that, 39,000 were international passengers, down slightly from 42,000 in July and reflective of Australia’s international arrival caps.

The business said in a statement to the ASX it expects the downturn in passenger traffic to persist until government travel restrictions are eased.

Australian Aviation previously revealed how Sydney Airport’s domestic passenger traffic almost doubled in July, due to a brief window when there was unrestricted travel between NSW, Victoria and Queensland.


The business argued then that the increase from 140,000 in June to 276,000 in July proved there was a “pent up demand” for interstate travel.

The bad news comes weeks after Sydney Airport announced it was making 118 roles redundant, or around 20 per cent of its total workforce.

Chief executive Geoff Culbert said in an email to staff, “We’ve fought hard for every job and we hoped we would never be in this position, but the circumstances have overcome us and for that, I’m truly sorry.”

The business this year revealed a half-year loss of $54 million – with passenger numbers down 96.6 per cent in the second half of 2020.

Comments (3)

  • Gordon


    This is hardly breaking news. Is your purpose in re-publishing to stir opposition to border closures? Put some effort into getting people to behave and it will all happen.

  • Ken


    This is really proving a challenging time for aviation, even sending ripples down to grass roots aviation as students see these kind of articles and the reduced demand for pilots, and either put off or give up on their aviation dreams.

  • Steve A


    Geoff Culbert could instead look to petition his NSW Premier to open the border between NSW and Victoria. After all, this closure is by far affecting his airport’s bottom line much more than the shutting of the border with Queensland.
    The SYD-MEL route is about 9 million passengers per annum.
    But the truth is that NSW has double standards. They don’t want the
    COVID cases from Victoria, but are happy to spread their COVID cases to Queensland.

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