Sydney Airport recorded a 665 per cent increase in passenger traffic in November compared to October, as Australia’s international and domestic borders began to ease.
The airport saw a total of 498,000 passengers over the month of November, a dramatic increase from the 65,000 passengers seen in October.
The drastic surge in passenger figures is largely due to the fact that the states of NSW, Victoria and the ACT all reopened their international borders to Australian citizens and residents with no quarantine from 1 November, while state border closures eased gradually over the month.
In November, Sydney welcomed over 407,000 domestic travellers, up a whopping 785 per cent compared to the 46,000 domestic passengers it saw in October.
Meanwhile, over 91,000 international travellers passed through Sydney Airport in November, up 379 per cent from October’s figure of 19,000.
While the numbers represent a strong uptick in the short-term, passenger thoroughfare remains heavily subdued.
Overall passenger numbers in November are still 86.7 per cent below pre-COVID numbers, while international passenger figures are down 93.3 per cent from 2019 levels.
The airport also noted that provisional data from the first 15 days of December indicates that international passenger traffic has seen a rebound, though remains 86 per cent below pre-COVID levels, while domestic passenger traffic also improved, now 69 per cent down from 2019 levels.
However, final December figures are likely to be impacted by the Omicron variant making its way to Australian shores, which saw new temporary restrictions placed on both overseas and domestic travellers.
Further, as restrictions on movement ease in NSW and Victoria, COVID cases continue to rise, which could similarly impact air travel rates.
It comes as both NSW and Victoria dropped their requirements for all international arrivals and aircrew to isolate for 72 hours after entering the state, however, both states have imposed new testing rules.
From Tuesday 21 December, all fully vaccinated international travellers and flight crew will be free to enter NSW and Victoria, however, will need to undergo a COVID-19 PCR test within 24 hours of arrival, and isolate until a negative result is received.
In late November, NSW and Victoria both introduced new rules that required all overseas arrivals to undergo a COVID test within 24 hours of arrival, and isolate for 72 hours regardless of the result, in light of Omicron variant fears.
Arrivals into NSW will now be required to undergo a second PCR test on day six after their arrival into the state, while arrivals into Victoria must similarly undergo a second test, anytime between days five and seven.
The new rules are in addition to previous requirements for entry, which means all arrivals must be fully vaccinated, and have received a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of boarding their flight into Australia.
The news also comes after the ACCC gave the green light for a consortium of super funds to purchase Sydney Airport for $23.6 billion, earlier this month.
However, the competition commission’s chair, Rod Sims, used his verdict to attack how airports in general act as “natural monopolies” which have “significant market power and no price regulation”.
The takeover will become one of the largest in the country’s history and see shareholders pocket $8.75 per share.
“The ACCC accepts that there is some minimal potential for competition between airports in relation to some aeronautical services, for example when an international airline seeks to enter the Australian market or when airports are located close to one another,” the verdict read.