Passenger traffic on the Canberra to Gold Coast route has almost doubled since before COVID, according to a new report by the ACCC.
The competition commission’s latest quarterly probe on the industry declared domestic travel is now “approaching a full recovery” and said more than 4.5 million people travelled in April.
“For the first time in over two years, Australians were free to travel during a holiday period without movement restrictions or a significant new COVID-19 variant of concern,” it said.
“Airlines operated fuller planes in April 2022. Average load factors improved to 75 per cent in April, their highest level since the pandemic began, though still below pre-COVID-19 levels of around 80 per cent. Western Australian and Queensland routes showed the most improvement.”
Overall it said the recovery was strongest on Gold Coast routes, where April passenger numbers between Canberra and the Gold Coast reached 193 per cent of pre-pandemic figures.
It said flights between the Gold Coast and Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney also surpassed 2019 levels.
However, it concluded that “workforce shortages and staff absences” led to “significant operational challenges” for the industry.
“As a result, frustration ensued at airports as passengers had to face long queues and delays,” it concluded.
Australian Aviation earlier reported how Gold Coast Airport became Australia’s first major airport to fully recover from COVID, with passenger and flight numbers beating pre-pandemic records.
The facility welcomed and bid farewell to almost 25,000 people on Easter Monday, a new monthly record, and close to the all-time high of 25,455 passengers on 4 January 2020.
The ACCC’s previous May report revealed how Qantas carried 37 per cent of all domestic passengers in April, taking the leading place from Virgin, which captured 31 per cent.
It comes after Virgin claimed victory over its rivals in January by securing 33 per cent share of all domestic passengers, while Jetstar and Qantas each secured a 31 per cent share.
In April, Jetstar lost part of this market share to full-service parent airline Qantas, with its own falling to 28 per cent.
This means together, the Qantas Group saw a total share of 65 per cent for the month, slightly higher than the 62 per cent seen in January, but still below its long-held target of 70 per cent.
Meanwhile, Rex again remained steady in April with its 4 per cent share.