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Melbourne Airport hits 87.6% of pre-pandemic international traffic

written by Jake Nelson | June 15, 2023

International terminal at Melbourne Airport. (WikiCommons)

Melbourne Airport’s COVID-19 recovery is continuing, with May 2023 seeing a new post-pandemic record for aircraft movements.

Domestic passengers were up a modest seven per cent on May 2022, but international traffic doubled year-on-year. Last month saw 3,784 international flights, compared with 1,780 in May 2022, carrying 744,868 passengers – 87.6 per cent of the 2019 figure and 103 per cent of May 2022.

A total of 19,714 flights arrived or departed from the airport last month, with a monthly total of 2,608,088 passengers – 90.4 per cent of the 2,885,517 passengers seen in May 2019. This includes 1,863,220 domestic passengers, compared with 2,035,600 in May 2019, translating to 92 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.

“The increase in both international and domestic capacity is important because it will help put downward pressure on airfares at a time when cost of living pressures are causing strain for many household budgets,” said Melbourne Airport CEO Lorie Argus.

“Melbourne Airport continues to plan for infrastructure such as our third runway to ensure we have room to enable this growth and keep Victorians and Victorian produce moving.”


The news comes less than two weeks after the ACCC’s final report into the aviation industry, which found that domestic travel across the country is still eight per cent below pre-pandemic levels.

According to the consumer watchdog, cost of living pressures and a weakening of post-pandemic demand are cancelling out lower ticket costs.

“Domestic airfares have generally fallen in recent months after hitting historically high levels in December 2022,” explains the report.

“These falls reflect a number of factors, including a decline in the price of jet fuel, an easing of pent-up demand for travel, the rising cost of living becoming a greater concern for consumers, and marginal increases to capacity.”

The report reveals that while prices have significantly lowered in recent months, rising inflation means they are still effectively higher than in 2019.

“The price index of best discount economy airfares in May 2023 was 43 per cent below what it was in December 2022 and 14% less than in February 2023,” the ACCC said.

“Despite these recent falls, the price index was still 13 per cent higher in real terms (32 per cent in nominal terms) in May 2023 compared to the same month pre-pandemic.”

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