Sydney Airport welcomes Delta, Tiger and V Australia; Auckland and LA get more carriers

Image: Qantas has just finished celebrating 50 years since the launch of its first commercial passenger service
At Sydney airport Qantas has just finished celebrating 50 years since the launch of its first commercial passenger service (it was between Sydney and San Francisco).

Sydney Airport, the international gateway to Australia, has handled more than 30 million passengers in each of the last three years. Having memorably held the Olympics in 2000 traffic at the airport fell in the wake of ‘9/11′ but has grown again in recent years. This year has seen the arrival of three new carriers of major significance. Tiger Airways has launched its first domestic services from the airport by linking its bases in Adelaide and Melbourne to Sydney while V Australia finally launched with direct daily flights to Los Angeles. In response Delta also began non-stop flights from the same airport to Sydney.

Image: Delta introduced a daily service between Los Angeles and Sydney in July.
Delta introduced a daily service between Los Angeles and Sydney in July.
Chart: Sydney Airport traffic 1995/96-2008/09
Source: BITRE
Traffic data is for Financial Year which runs from July to June.

Domestic traffic which accounts for around two-thirds of passenger movements at the airport has remained relatively stable during the last year. Among the top 10 domestic routes from Sydney year-on-year traffic has grown on five routes and fallen on five.

Chart: Top 10 domestic routes from Sydney - Annual passengers (millions)
Source: BITRE

Demand for flights to and from the capital in Canberra increased by more than 10%, while there was also double-digit growth on the route to Sunshine Coast in Queensland. Based on current schedule data Qantas has a 46.4% share of domestic capacity at the airport followed by Virgin Blue (31.1%), Jetstar (13.0%), Regional Express (3.4%) and Tiger Airways (2.1%).

New Zealand and US are leading country markets

Although many Europeans visit Australia (and vice-versa) current aircraft technology means that non-stop services between Australia and Europe are not currently viable. This means that in terms of international destinations served non-stop from Sydney, New Zealand and the US are the two leading country markets.

Chart: Top 12 country markets from Sydney
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 3 August 2009

Two of the three MEB3 airlines serve Sydney from their bases in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Emirates operates seven weekly flights while Etihad has 11. Only Qatar Airways does not yet serve the biggest city in Australia though it intends to do so soon. European carriers are limited to just British Airways and Virgin Atlantic who both operate from London Heathrow; British Airways via Bangkok and Singapore, Virgin Atlantic via Hong Kong.

Apart from the Los Angeles route (which has seen the arrival of both Delta and V Australia to compete against Qantas and United), the other destination which has seen a notable increase in competition is Auckland. The route was previously basically a duopoly between Qantas and Air New Zealand, but the appearance of Pacific Blue (Virgin Blue’s international brand) has encouraged Qantas to also allow its low-cost subsidiary Jetstar onto the route.

Starting next month Pacific Blue will also be starting flights to Hamilton, Queenstown and Wellington in New Zealand while Air Zealand is starting flights from Rotorua later in the year.

Now four A380s and non-stop flights to South America

Qantas currently has four A380s each configured with 450 seats. The latest was delivered just a few days ago and will be used to increase A380 frequencies on routes from Sydney to Los Angeles and London Heathrow (via Singapore). Two more A380s are due to be delivered before the end of 2009 with a further three next year. One route unlikely to see the A380 is the Buenos Aires route which was launched last November with three-weekly non-stop flights. A 747-400 currently operates the flight from Sydney in just over 13 hours while the return journey takes just under 15 hours.


  1. Chris says:

    EK operates 14 (not 7) weekly flights – 7 direct (with Airbus A380), 7 via BKK, with the former continuing on to AKL. QR flights are due to be launched in 2010. replies: Our reference was to non-stop flights to their home base which, as you agree, is just seven weekly flights in the case of Emirates.

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