Brisbane Airport CEO Gert-Jan de Graaff has said he believes total travel volumes will finally exceed 2019 levels in 2025.
However, he thinks domestic aviation — currently at 90 per cent pre-pandemic numbers — will return to normality next year.
De Graaff is one of the industry’s most influential figures and was speaking ahead of his keynote presentation at Flight Centre Corporate’s upcoming Illuminate conference.
“Airlines need time to restart — some countries are still closed or have restrictions — and we need to rebuild the confidence of passengers to get on flights again,” he said. “However, I am confident that we will see, from 2025 onwards, volumes that will exceed 2019 levels.
“International travel has also picked up at a slower pace than domestic travel. Currently, we’re back to around 50 per cent of pre-COVID levels.”
He added that while corporate travel is currently down, he believes it, too, will bounce back strongly in 2023.
“What we are seeing now is that people really want to travel,” said de Graaff.
“They want to come to Australia and visit us for business and leisure. A lot of the corporates haven’t seen their customers and colleagues for the last two and a half years, and they’re really keen to get on flights again, develop their businesses and seek new opportunities.”
Ahead of the Games, de Graaff said new terminals will be critical. “We are running out of domestic terminal capacity and will require additional international terminal capacity before the Games.
“My biggest prediction is that, when passengers travel in 2032, they will be travelling through a completely new state-of-the-art Brisbane Airport, net zero, or even climate positive Scope 1 and 2, with new mass transport solutions to and from each terminal.”
Brisbane recently started introducing new security screening to speed up the process for international passengers. “The new equipment has a lot of advantages, namely, that passengers can keep laptops and liquids in their bags at security checkpoints.
“In the next few years, passengers will also see significant upgrades in our domestic terminal. We are planning to build a mezzanine where our new security checkpoint will be located.
“We are implementing upgrades to allow passengers to move directly from our multi-level car park into the security checkpoint, offering a streamlined entrance into the terminal. A new baggage system will also be introduced, while self-service products and services, such as self-service check-in are on the way.”
It comes after the airport said last month it enjoyed a “very smooth period” during the state’s school holidays, with the maximum wait time to pass through security peaking at only 20 minutes.
It follows previous end-of-term getaways leading to record nationwide delays in April, June, and July as the industry battled chronic staff shortages and pandemic absences.
Brisbane’s wait time estimate backs up an independent analysis by Australian Aviation earlier this month, which showed it and Melbourne were coping well with the increase in numbers.