Australia’s international traffic growing at 7%; Qantas share now down at 16% as AirAsia X grows fast among leading carriers
Australia’s domestic air travel market grew by a modest 1.8% in 2013 to reach 57.5 million passengers. The country’s international air travel sector showed rather healthier growth, up 5.9% to 31.4 million. In January 2014, international traffic was up an impressive 10.5%, the first double-digit increase since March 2012. How much of this was down to English cricket fans returning home in disgust at their team’s 5-0 thrashing by the home team in the test series is not clear.
Among the country’s top 10 domestic routes nine reported growth in the year-ending February 2014 (the latest available data), with Melbourne-Hobart (+8.5%) leading the way, and only Melbourne-Gold Coast (-4.5%) reporting a decline. With almost 8.3 million annual passengers, the Sydney-Melbourne route remains by far the country’s busiest air route (and one of the busiest in the world), and grew by 1.7% in the last 12 months.
New domestic routes launched in the last few months include several new routes from Tigerair Australia from its Sydney and Brisbane bases, as well as Qantas (Brisbane to Port Macquarie), REX Regional Express (Sydney-Armidale) and Virgin Australia (Melbourne-Hamilton Island).
International traffic up almost 7% in last 12 months
For the year ended January 2014, international traffic was up 6.6%. Sydney leads the way with 13.0 million passengers (up 5.1%), followed by Melbourne with 7.4 million (up 8.1%) and Brisbane with 4.7 million (up 5.6%). Perth reported 9% growth to almost four million international passengers, while Adelaide reported an impressive 25% increase to 825,000. Since March 2009, international traffic has grown year-on-year every month with the exception of March 2011. Significant new international services launched in the last 12 months to/from Australia include:
- AirAsia X: Kuala Lumpur (KUL) to Adelaide (ADL) on 30 October 2013, with four times weekly A333 flights.
- Air India: Delhi (DEL) to Sydney (SYD) and Melbourne (MEL) on 29 August 2013, with daily 787 flights.
- Fiji Airways: Suva (SUV) to Sydney (SYD) on 2 May 2014, with twice-weekly 737 flights.
- Jetstar Airways: Adelaide (ADL) to Auckland (AKL) on 16 December 2013, with thrice-weekly A320 flights.
- Jetstar Airways: Adelaide (ADL) to Denpasar (DPS) on 17 December 2013, with thrice-weekly A320 flights.
- Jetstar Airways: Melbourne (MEL) to Phuket (HKT) on 14 December 2013, with twice-weekly A332 service.
- Jetstar Airways: Melbourne (MEL) to Tokyo Narita (NRT) on 29 April 2014, with four times weekly A332 service.
- Jetstar Airways: Perth (PER) to Lombok (LOP) on 24 September 2013, with four times weekly A320 service.
- Scoot: Singapore (SIN) to Perth (PER) on 12 December 2013, with five times weekly B772 service.
- Sichuan Airlines: Chongqing (CKG) to Sydney (SYD) on 20 December 2013, twice-weekly with A332 service.
According to the latest BITRE figures for January 2014, Qantas has just 16.0% of the international market followed by Emirates (9.3%). Jetstar Airways and Singapore Airlines were tied in third place with 8.4% each. Combining Qantas and Jetstar still gives the Qantas Group of airlines less than one-quarter of the Australian international market. The biggest gainer in terms of market share is AirAsia X which has increased its presence from 3.4% in January 2013 to 4.9% in January 2014.