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Melbourne looks to exceed pre-COVID international capacity

written by Jake Nelson | November 15, 2023

A file image of Melbourne’s international terminal. (Image: Melbourne Airport)

Melbourne expects to be the first Australian airport to surpass pre-pandemic international passenger traffic as it nears a full international recovery.

International traffic in October 2023 was at 95 per cent of 2019 levels, with domestic traffic steady at 90 per cent for a total recovery of 91 per cent. Monthly passenger numbers also topped three million for the first time since January 2020, including more than 2.1 million domestic travellers.

International passenger numbers were also up 47 per cent on October 2022. Melbourne Airport CEO Lorie Argus praised her team for the result and said the next month would be significant for the continued recovery.

“We are on track to bring international seat numbers back above 2019 levels well ahead of forecast and ahead of other Australian airports,” she said.

“Higher capacity typically means lower prices so this is great news for consumers, and with an average daily international flight worth $154 million a year to the Victorian economy it’s also great news for the state.”


December will see several new and returning international routes launch at Melbourne Airport, including Air India to Mumbai, Aircalin to Noumea, Batik Air to Kuala Lumpur, and an expansion of Vietjet’s service to Ho Chi Minh City. Singapore Airlines will also increase to five daily flights starting next week.

Argus last month highlighted a need for more international airlines in Melbourne, possibly obliquely referring to the Qatar Airways stoush that saw a Senate committee demand the government review its decision to block more flights from the Middle Eastern carrier.

“Airports are subject to regular monitoring by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, and it makes sense that this arrangement be extended across the broader aviation industry,” said Argus.

“We also believe an open skies approach to bilateral air service agreements will benefit consumers by maximising competition and choice.”

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