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Brisbane Airport bucks stagnant domestic recovery trend

written by Jake Nelson | August 11, 2023

Brisbane Airport, from above. (Image: Brisbane Airport)

Brisbane Airport saw 20 million passengers pass through its terminals in the 2022-23 financial year, an 84 per cent recovery on pre-COVID levels.

In total, the airport saw 4.08 million international passengers, compared to 6.29 in the 2019 financial year, and 16.08 million domestic passengers, compared to 17.6 million in FY19. Additionally, June 2023 saw a 98 per cent domestic recovery and 77 per cent international recovery on June 2019.

Gert-Jan de Graaff, CEO of Brisbane Airport Corporation, says the full-year figures are an important step on the road back to pre-COVID normality.

“That’s an average of more than a full Suncorp Stadium of people every single day of the year travelling through our terminals, or an average 55 thousand people per day, and that’s just the passengers. On top of this, there are 24,000 people who come to work at BNE daily,” he said.

“20 million passengers is a milestone following the pandemic. When Brisbane Airport is busy, Queensland is busy, and this is great news for the recovery of tourism and jobs right across the Sunshine State.”


New Zealand is Brisbane’s biggest international market, followed by Indonesia (Bali), the UK, USA, and India.

Brisbane’s 98 per cent domestic recovery in June bucks the trend seen elsewhere of a stagnating domestic market. In Sydney, domestic passengers grew just 1.2 per cent year-on-year to 1.90 million travellers in June 2023, representing a 90.6 per cent recovery rate on June 2019 traffic.

This prompted Sydney Airport CEO Geoff Culbert, in a significant intervention, to call on major carriers to make full use of their takeoff slots or relinquish them to other airlines.

“In the 12 months to June, passenger numbers on the Sydney to Melbourne route were just 81 per cent recovered compared to pre-pandemic levels, while numbers between Sydney and Canberra were only 64 per cent recovered,” he said.

“It will be interesting to see if this is a long-term trend. If incumbent airlines have decided to fly less between key domestic markets, then they should relinquish slots to domestic and international carriers who want to operate out of Sydney Airport and provide more choice for customers.”

Both Qantas and Virgin Australia have denied the accusation that they are gaming the slot system.

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