Australia domestic market growth still around 2%; international traffic up 7% with China (+23%) and Japan (+13%) driving passenger growth
Australia’s domestic air travel market is not exactly the world’s most dynamic. When we last looked at the market around a year ago domestic traffic had grown by 1.7% in the previous 12 months. Well, in the subsequent 12 months (to May 2017) it has grown 1.6%, to 59.2 million passengers. This modest growth on RPT (Regular Public Transport) services was achieved thanks to a 1.3 percentage point improvement in load factor, as available seats actually fell by 0.3%.
At a route level, of the top 10 domestic city pairs, eight reported growth according to the latest BITRE statistics. Leading the way was the Gold Coast-Melbourne route (+5.5%), followed by Hobart-Melbourne (+5.4%). The two routes showing a decline both involved Perth, with Sydney traffic down 1.2% and Melbourne demand falling by 3.1%. The busiest route, between Sydney and Melbourne, grew by 2.0% to 8.94 million passengers.
Among the top 50 routes the only one reporting double-digit growth was the Sydney to Ayers Rock connection, which saw demand jump 13.9% to 191,300 passengers. The route is served by both Jetstar Airways and Virgin Australia. The biggest drop was on the Perth-Karratha route where passenger numbers fell by 16.7% to 464,500. Routes in Western Australia have been hit by the downturn in the mining industry which is a key driver of demand in that region. Bars highlighted in red below indicate months where the domestic market witnessed a downturn in growth when compared to the same month the year before, with the last month to see a downturn in traffic being February this year.
According to OAG data for July 2017, the leading carriers in the domestic market (by seat capacity) are Qantas (37.3%), Virgin Australia (29.9%), Jetstar Airways (20.2%), Tigerair Australia (7.2%) and Regional Express (3.2%). No other carrier has more than 1% of seat capacity. In terms of flights Qantas still leads with 36.6%, followed by Virgin Australia (24.8%), Jetstar Airways (13.8%), Regional Express (12.0%) and Tigerair Australia (5.1%). In addition Airnorth Regional (1.73%) and Hinterland Aviation (1.33%) both operate at least 1% of domestic flights.
International traffic to Australia up 6.8% in the year to end of April 2017
The country’s international air travel sector showed faster growth, up 6.8% to 38.3 million in the year ending April 2017. While the top 10 city pairs saw growth of just 2.3%, all other city pairs grew by 8.9%. Sydney-Auckland remained the busiest international route, with demand up 1.6% to almost 1.6 million passengers. Among the top 10 routes, the fastest-growing was Melbourne to Singapore (up 9.8%) while the fastest-shrinking was Sydney to Los Angeles (down 5.3%).
New Zealand remained the leading country market with just over seven million passengers (up 2.8%) followed by Singapore, UAE and the US, none of which grew by more than 3%. Among the top 10 country markets the fastest-growing were China (+23.0%), Japan (+13.7%), Malaysia (+10.6%) and Indonesia (+9.0%).
Among Australian airports Sydney leads the way with 15.4 million international passengers (up 6.9%), followed by Melbourne with 9.9 million (up 7.8%) and Brisbane with 5.5 million (up 4.5%). Perth reported almost 4% growth to 4.4 million, while Gold Coast reported 11% growth to just over 1.1 million passengers.
According to the latest BITRE figures for April 2017, Qantas has just 16.5% of the international market followed by Jetstar Airways (8.9%). Emirates is third with 8.3% followed by Singapore Airlines (7.9%) and Air New Zealand (6.7%). Compared with last April, AirAsia X has seen the biggest gain, growing its share of the market from 3.5% to 4.3%.