Australian domestic market still growing in 2009; Tiger starts two Sydney routes in July

Image: Hamilton marina
On Saturday, Virgin Blue will start up a daily service from Sydney to Hamilton Island (gateway to the famous Whitsundays). Virgin Blue is seeing growing demand for connections from its existing Brisbane services. It will now compete directly with JetStar who operate the route from Sydney (via Brisbane).

Despite the various global factors that have been negatively impacting air travel demand across the globe, the Australian domestic market has proved robust in 2009 with traffic in the first four months of 2009 showing marginal growth (when adjusted for the extra day in 2008). For the first time last year the number of domestic air passengers in Australia passed the 50 million mark.

Chart: Domestic Growth
Source: BITRE

Although traffic was down in February and March, this can be partially explained by the extra day in February in 2008 and Easter being in March last year. A good sign is that load factors are again picking up. Last year domestic load factors were down in every month although for the year as a whole they averaged a still impressive 77.9% compared with the record-breaking 79.9% achieved in 2008.

Tiger ready to stimulate depressed Sydney routes

Comparison of year-on-year figures for the busiest domestic routes in Australia reveals that passenger numbers on the country’s busiest domestic route (Sydney – Melbourne) have been down each month since last November. The launch this week of Tiger Airways flights between the two cities may see this trend reverse. Similarly, the Sydney – Adelaide route which has been depressed since last November should benefit from Tiger Airways services starting on 31 July.

Chart: Top domestic routes
Source: BITRE

Among Australia’s top 20 domestic routes in 2008 all but two reported growth for the year as a whole. However, 10 reported double-digit growth with Gold Coast – Melbourne (+26.3%) leading the way followed by Melbourne – Hobart (+15.0%) and Sydney – Canberra (+14.3%). The busy Sydney – Melbourne route saw traffic growth of 3.1% to reach 7.01 million passengers.

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