IATA Slots in Brisbane nears; key unserved Australia routes revealed

The top-20 domestic routes within Australia that are unserved or underserved by volume of indirect passengers. Source: OAG Mapper.

IATA’s 145th Slot Conference in Brisbane, Australia – running between the 12th and 15th November – is fast approaching.  So this is a timely opportunity to look at unserved and significantly underserved Australia routes.  This builds on other Australia articles around the recent World Routes in Adelaide: unserved routes to Southeast Asia and Australia – New Zealand.

Australia’s top-20 domestic routes by total indirect passengers

Five million people flew indirectly within Australia in the 12 months to August 2019, flat YOY.  The top-20 unserved markets have just over one million passengers. It’s notable that Brisbane hasn’t even one route in the top-20. Its first, in twenty-second, is Karratha, long at 2,334 miles with 32,000 passengers.  It is mining-focused and has an average fare of USD$538 one-way, a fare per mile of USD0.23.

Table of the top-20 Australia routes

Top-20 unserved rmarkets % indirect of total passengers Indirect passengers (two way): 12 months to August 2019 Previous 12 months % chg. Average one-way fare*: August 2018 to August 2019 18-19 (USD) Fare/mile (USDc)*
Adelaide – Hobart 66% 93,700 103,300 -9% $119 $0.163
Melbourne – Townsville 43% 80,400 68,700 +17% $168 $0.132
Melbourne – Mackay 100% 75,600 79,600 -5% $138 $0.118
Canberra -Perth 40% 70,700 69,500 +2% $403 $0.210
Mackay -Sydney 100% 61,600 61,700 0% $165 $0.186
Canberra – Hobart  100% 59,200 58,200 +2% $190 $0.361
Melbourne -Rockhampton 100% 55,200 53,600 +3% $182 $0.175
Rockhampton – Sydney 100% 50,300 50,700 -1% $161 $0.221
Launceston – Gold Coast 100% 46,700 46,700 0% $111 $0.112
Hobart – Gold Coast 57% 45,600 48,200 -5% $75 $0.070
Perth -Townsville 100% 40,500 41,800 -3% $310 $0.148
Canberra -Darwin 100% 40,000 41,700 -4% $344 $0.177
Hobart – Perth 48% 39,800 61,400 -35% (from new n/s) $240 $0.128
Gold Coast – Perth 37% 39,700 40,600 -2% $277 $0.123
Cairns – Perth 45% 39,500 41,400 -5% $232 $0.109
Adelaide -Launceston 100% 39,100 40,600 -4% $137 $0.209
Launceston – Perth 100% 37,100 40,000 -7% $183 $0.099
Canberra – Cairns 100% 34,000 34,300 -1% $242 $0.188
Canberra –  Townsville 100% 33,400 34,100 -2% $228 $0.204
Adelaide – Townsville 100% 32,800 34,100 -4% $225 $0.189
Source: OAG Traffic Analyser. * Fare data is one-way, excluding taxes and any fuel surcharge or ancillaries and average across all cabins. 

With 94,000 passengers, Adelaide – Hobart is the ‘most underserved’.  Jetstar is the sole operator with a four-weekly year-round service.  66% of Adelaide – Hobart passengers travel indirectly, clearly via Melbourne. Adelaide – Hobart benefits from the highest volume, one of the shortest sector lengths and a fare per mile only slightly below average.

Potential opportunities within Australia

Canberra, the Australian capital, stands out, including for its above-trend results irrespective of distance.  Canberra’s higher fares are from a greater proportion of premium traffic from government and corporate travel. The Gold Coast also stands out for the opposite reason and the strong penetration at the airport by Jetstar and Tigerair Australia.  Adelaide – Hobart underperforms by this measure.

Australia's top-20 domestic routes without non-stops or which are underserved

Source: OAG Traffic Analyser.

Canberra – Hobart has strong underlying demand and it is a relatively short route (527 miles).  It was served by Virgin Australia until 2013, but now it has a good average fare (USD$190) – like most from Canberra – and a very strong fare per mile.  And with connections via Melbourne adding 30% to the distance, perhaps Jetstar or Tigerair, if not parents Qantas or Virgin Australia, might serve it. 

But therein lies the rub.  With 94% of domestic Australia sewn up between two groups, there has to be a very strong reason to launch routes that would otherwise simply flow via their hubs.


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