The route from Sydney to Melbourne has once again become one of the busiest routes globally.
Despite travel capacities being reduced, the route is now the fifth busiest in the world, up from sixth last October thanks to a surge over the summer holiday period.
According to OAG, the world’s leading aviation data provider, the Sydney to Melbourne route jumped up to 8,204,871 seats per year, passing the Saudi Arabian Jeddah to Riyadh service which had 7,495,790 seats per year.
Seoul to Jeju Island in South Korea remained the busiest route in the world, followed by Tokyo to Sapporo in Japan, Hanoi to Ho-Chi Minh in Vietnam and Tokyo to Fukuoka.
Travel capacity has begun its return to pre-pandemic numbers, with a spike in domestic travel occurring in June last year, however, this was spoiled by all-time records for delays in April, June and July.
The industry has since recruited thousands of extra staff, and reduced flight capacity to catch up. The result other than a reduction in delays is massive profits for airlines, thanks to high demand and low capacity driving up airfare prices.
Now airlines are hesitant to increase capacity again due to the risk of profits decreasing.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said whilst it acknowledges that the increased fairs and reduced capacity are a result of “high jet fuel costs and operational challenges,” it would be keeping an eye on airfares.
Following this, Geoff Culbert, chief executive of Sydney Airport, is urging airlines to ramp up capacity in an effort to restore travel back to pre-pandemic normal.
Culbert says whilst it is exciting that the airport saw three million travellers in December for the first time since the pandemic, traffic is still 20 per cent less than in 2019.
“Our domestic terminals were bustling over the Christmas period as Australians travelled to see friends and family and explore this great country. The recovery is by no means over though, with 411,000 fewer domestic passengers in December 2022 than in December 2019,” he said.
“Australia needs to unlock more capacity, and quickly, if we want to see a sustained recovery for our tourism, education, and export industries.”
Qantas has previously stated that it would be raising its domestic capacity from March 2023, adding 57 new return services a week.
This would bring the airline’s capacity to 93 per cent of what it was pre-pandemic. By the end of the year, it hopes to be at 104 per cent capacity.