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International travel still down 40% on 2019, says Melbourne Airport

written by Adam Thorn | October 18, 2022

Rob Finlayson pictured the first Jetstar A320 NEO arriving in Melbourne.

Melbourne Airport has revealed its number of international passengers in September was still nearly 40 per cent down on pre-pandemic 2019.

It comes despite domestic aviation returning to near-normal numbers, with its figures down just 13 per cent on the corresponding month.

The news highlights how the wider industry is struggling to balance resourcing against two very different recoveries.

“A total of 582,481 passengers passed through the international terminal in September 2022 compared to just 10,356 during the height of Melbourne’s final lockdown twelve months earlier,” said the business.

“School holidays and the AFL Grand Final helped boost domestic traveller numbers, with 1,898,333 passengers processed through Melbourne Airport’s terminals, including the recently combined T3/T4.


“Despite the growing demand for air travel the number of domestic passengers in September was down 13 per cent on the corresponding month in 2019, while the international figure was down 38 per cent.

“This reflects the number of available seats, with domestic capacity at 84 per cent of September 2019 levels and international capacity at 60 per cent.”

While the international figures are still down on 2019, the September numbers have nudged up from the previous month’s 546,774 and represent the best month since lockdowns ended.

Melbourne Airport CEO Lorie Argus said “We’ve been working hard alongside the Victorian state government to make sure the world’s airlines understand what an incredible place Melbourne is, and many carriers are listening.

“Today Thai Airways announced it will increase its Bangkok service to double daily from December, which is a welcome return to pre-COVID-19 levels of flying.

“Thai’s 14 flights per week will also provide important connectivity through to other south-east Asian, Indian and European destinations.

“United Airlines will soon be flying daily between Melbourne and both LA and San Francisco, which is more than what they flew pre-pandemic, and in the coming months we’re excited to welcome back Air Asia X and Garuda Indonesia as well as Qantas’ new service to Dallas.

“Pleasingly we are now also seeing the results of the work our domestic airlines have done to improve their operational reliability, which is being reflected in better on-time performance.”

It comes after Australian Aviation reported last month how Australian airports nationwide are still welcoming less than half the number of international passengers than before COVID-19, despite domestic travel being almost back to pre-pandemic numbers.

Improved staffing levels across the industry have also seen Qantas claim to have performed better than rival Virgin on delays in September — despite months of it being the worst-performing airline in Australia.

The business said in its latest market update that its ‘on-time performance’ increased from 67 per cent in August to 69 per cent the following month.

While the numbers have yet to be publicly verified by the Department of Transport, it would prove a remarkable turnaround after slumping to just 45 per cent in July.

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