Melbourne Airport’s passenger traffic for the last financial year dropped to its lowest level since 1984.
The business’ chief executive, Lyell Strambi, said it was now a matter of “urgent and critical national interest” to address the country’s vaccine supply challenges.
The news comes on the day Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews announced his state’s lockdown would continue for another seven days, with NSW also under stay-at-home restrictions.
In total, passenger numbers for FY20-21 was just 6.1 million. Domestic numbers made up the bulk of passengers – 5,939,368 – but that number alone was a 68.8 per cent decline on FY19-20. International numbers of 230,455 represented a 97.2 per cent drop on the same time last year.
“The sector has never experienced a deeper or longer crisis than COVID; it almost completely grounded interstate and international travel last year and it continues to prevent flying due to outbreaks and subsequent border closures,” said Strambi.
“Looking back at the past 12 months, Australia managed its outbreaks better than many other parts of the world, and during periods of no community transmission interstate travel in and out of Melbourne rose to around 45 per cent of pre-COVID levels. That demonstrates a resilient confidence and determination to travel.
“Vaccination is our only path out of this situation, it is the only way to unlock international travel opportunities and to restore the freedoms we once enjoyed.
“We continue to work closely with our international airline partners and state and federal governments to plan to reconnect Victorians to the rest of the world when it is safe to do so.”
Last week, Australian Aviation reported how the number of aircraft arriving and departing from Sydney Airport on Wednesday finally hit the same lows as the corresponding date in 2020.
It marked the first time the numbers have dropped to the levels last seen at the darkest points last year, but comes when there is now no nationwide JobKeeper payment for those stood down.
Analysis by Australian Aviation of data from tracking website Flight Aware shows that 231 aircraft took off or landed on 15 July 2021, compared with 226 on the same date in 2020, on a seven-day rolling average.
Overall flight activity is now down 75 per cent compared with 2019, and the news comes despite domestic aviation mounting an impressive comeback just months ago.
The trans-Tasman bubble is also now closed to NSW and Victoria within hours, cutting off the tap of commercial international travel.
On Tuesday, Sydney Airport also revealed its passenger traffic for June dipped to 906,000 from 1.35 million in May.