Brisbane Airport estimates its domestic passenger traffic will pass 30,000 for the first time post-COVID on Friday.
The achievement is significant given its numbers averaged just 1,830 per day during the lowest point of the pandemic in April.
Queensland opened its borders to both Greater Sydney and Victoria on 1 December, re-establishing Australia’s Golden Triangle.
The airport’s chief executive, Gert-Jan de Graaff, said the figures are a welcome sight given the “incredibly slow and challenging year”.
“We still have some way to go before we reach complete recovery of our domestic network, but the last few weeks have shown Australians are ready and willing to explore our beautiful state and country once more,” said Graaff.
The 30,000 figure comprises 16,000 arrivals and 14,000 departing passengers from a total of 309 flights.
The re-opening of the golden triangle has caused Sydney flights to increase fivefold from an average of 5 to 26 per day, with Melbourne increasing tenfold from two to 20 flights per day.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk made the decision to open up on 1 December following Sydney and Victoria recording a month without any ‘community transmission’ of COVID.
Qantas and Jetstar estimated 9,000 passengers were booked to travel on the first day of opening from Sydney and Melbourne to Queensland. The airline group now says it will operate more than 420 return flights per week across 19 routes between Queensland and both Sydney and Melbourne.
This compares with around 40 return flights per week when borders were closed. It also means Sydney-Brisbane and Melbourne-Brisbane have returned to their pre-COVID position in the top three busiest air routes in the country – effectively re-establishing the so-called Golden Triangle.
Australian Aviation in October reported that Queensland’s decision to reshut its border to NSW has bizarrely caused Brisbane to surge past Sydney and handle more than twice as many passengers per month as its larger rival.
The knock-on effect of Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s restrictions meant Brisbane clocked up 324,188 total passengers in August versus Sydney’s 129,000.
Significantly, the Queensland capital’s numbers were down only slightly from July (358,537) whereas the NSW capital’s collapsed 60 per cent (from 317,000).