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Sydney traffic passes 1 million for first time post-COVID

written by Adam Thorn | April 20, 2021

Qantas B737 VH-XZI reaches for the sky off 34L YSSY 12.2.21
A Qantas B737 VH-XZI takes off from Sydney in February 2021 (Justin McCoy)

Sydney Airport’s domestic passenger traffic increased 80 per cent in March to cross the million mark for the first time since the COVID pandemic.

The business revealed the numbers travelling through were 1,120,000, up significantly from February’s 596,000 and smashing the post-COVID December high of 659,000.

It comes despite Brisbane’s snap five-day lockdown that occurred at the end of the month.

The news means Australia’s normally busiest airport has recovered 50 per cent of its traffic recorded during March 2019. It was down just 15 per cent on the same month last year, too.

Brisbane entered its snap lockdown, triggering border closures, at 5pm on Monday, 29 March and it lasted to midday on Thursday, 1 April.

The news brings hope that the airport could recover to near pre-COVID performance in April, given the start of the government’s program to supplement 800,000 half-price airfares.

The deal will cover 46,600 discounted fares per week to 13 tourism destinations such as the Gold Coast, Alice Springs and Kangaroo Island, with most departing from the NSW capital.


A breakthrough month is also likely after Virgin said it sold more domestic tickets on the launch day of the cheap fares scheme than in any 24-hour period in its history.

Virgin said in a statement it sold 71,000 supplemented seats in the 24-hour period from 12:01am on 1 April.

“The overwhelming response from Australians demonstrates loud and clear that they are ready to get back in the air and travel and are a positive sign for the aviation and tourism sectors as they look to recover from the impacts of COVID-19,” said the business in a statement.

“As a sign of renewed confidence and pent-up travel demand for travel, more than 85 per cent of the new bookings have been booked for travel from May onwards.”

Sydney also recorded 33,000 international passengers consistent with 27,000 the previous.

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