Brisbane Airport’s chief executive has revealed the city’s short lockdown this month “collapsed forward bookings” and damaged interstate travel.
Gert-Jan de Graaff’s revelation comes as he announced total passenger numbers at the airport last year were down 66 per cent on 2019, and on the quietest day, just 31 people travelled through.
The surprise shutdown of Queensland’s capital was ordered by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to help stop the spread of the supposedly ‘mutant’ British strain of COVID that is more transmissible.
“It will take many years for us to recover from the impacts of the virus, the resulting border closures and decline in consumer confidence,” said de Graaff.
“It is critical that there is a sustained period in which domestic borders remain open as Brisbane Airport will continue to be the major gateway from other states to our regional areas, and it will take some time for the corporate market to return to pre-COVID levels.
“The recent mid-January period where Greater Brisbane was designated as a hotspot collapsed forward bookings and interstate travel. The forward outlook remains challenging and, of course, the traditionally buoyant Chinese New Year will not be possible.”
Total passenger numbers at Brisbane Airport in 2020 were just over 8 million, which marks a 26-year-low.
“International traveller numbers decreased by nearly 5 million to 1.4 million passengers for the calendar year, resulting in a 78 per cent decrease on 2019,” said the business in a statement.
“More than 1 million of these passengers travelled in the first two months of the year. Domestic passenger numbers were 6.7 million, a reduction of 62.5 per cent or close to 11.1 million fewer passengers than 2019.”
Gert-Jan de Graaff then said it was essential for the travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand to become two-way, arguing that it could be the difference between “survival and collapse for many hundreds of businesses across our state”.
“We will work with all agencies and relevant partners on both sides of the ‘ditch’ to make this happen sooner rather than later,” de Graaff said.
The grim figures come despite Brisbane Airport faring relatively well last year compared with other major state capitals.
In October, Australian Aviation revealed how Queensland’s decision to reshut its border to NSW bizarrely caused Brisbane to surge past Sydney and handle more than twice as many passengers per month as its larger rival.