Australian domestic air travel demand up 3.3% in Q1; Virgin Australia brand launched this month to replace Virgin Blue
Despite some severe weather conditions on Australia’s east coast during the early part of this year domestic air travel demand still grew by 3.3% to just over 13 million passengers. Passenger numbers were up 7.1% in January, unchanged in February, and up 2.7% in March. Significant new domestic routes include Jetstar launching daily flights between Gold Coast and Hobart just before Christmas, and Tiger Airways entering the Brisbane to Sydney market with three daily flights in early February, and Strategic Airlines introducing double-daily flights between Brisbane and Gladstone.
International traffic which increased by 9.5% in 2010, has also started 2011 well, with passenger numbers up 9% in January and 4.4% in February. For most of the last two years international traffic has been growing faster than domestic traffic. Notable new international services to have started in 2011 include Qantas replacing its San Francisco service with a new direct service to Dallas/Ft Worth, Malaysia Airlines from Kota Kinabalu to Perth, Hainan Airlines from Hangzhou to Sydney (via Shenzhen), Strategic Airlines’ Melbourne and Brisbane routes to Phuket, Royal Brunei starting non-stop flights to Melbourne, and V Australia from Sydney to Abu Dhabi.
Only Qantas has more than 10% share of international traffic
Latest figures from the Australian government show that Qantas continues to be the airline with more than 10% of international passengers, though its share is still below 20%. However, when combined with its low-cost subsidiary Jetstar, the Qantas group of airlines manages to grab around a quarter of the passenger market.
Earlier this month saw the launch of Virgin Australia, the new name for the group of airlines that previously comprised Virgin Blue, Pacific Blue, and V Australia. Domestic flights (previously operated as Virgin Blue) have become Virgin Australia flights with immediate effect while international flights will operate under the Virgin Australia name by the end of the year.