International airlines made little effort to increase capacity into Australia in October, with the number of seats for sale still 42 per cent down on the same month pre-COVID.
That number is only 2 per cent better than the figures recorded the previous month, suggesting Australia’s recovery is badly stalling.
It comes after Sydney Airport’s chief executive recently called on international airlines to operate more flights to boost Australia’s struggling tourism sector.
The lack of flights is also having the effect of pushing up prices, deterring many from visiting the country.
New BITRE figures released by the Department of Transport also show international flights remain packed, with ‘seat utilisation’ at 86 per cent in October compared to pre-COVID 82 per cent.
The number is a slight improvement on the 89 per cent level seen in September, thought to be the highest ever.
“International scheduled passenger traffic in October 2022 was 2.174 million,” read the latest report. “International passenger traffic continues to be severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Passenger traffic was 46,145 in October 2021 and 3.587 million in October 2019.
“Total seats made available on international scheduled operations to/from Australia during October 2022 were 2.584 million – a decrease of 42.3 per cent compared to October 2019.
“The overall seat utilisation percentage was 82.1 per cent in October 2019 and 8.7 per cent in October 2021. It has increased to 86.1 per cent in October 2022.
“In terms of passenger carriage, Qantas Airways had the largest share of the market in October 2022 with 17.6 per cent of the total followed by Jetstar with 12.3 per cent, Singapore Airlines with 12.1 per cent, Air New Zealand with 10.0 per cent and Emirates with 6.9 per cent.
“The Qantas group – Qantas Airways and Jetstar accounted for 29.9 per cent of total passenger carriage in October 2022. The group’s share was 0.0 per cent in October 2021 and 26.4 per cent in October 2019.
“Australian designated airlines – Qantas Airways, Jetstar and Virgin Australia (2.3 per cent) accounted for 32.3 per cent of total passenger carriage in October 2022. Their share was 0.0 per cent in October 2021 and 33.3 per cent in October 2019.”
Last month, Australian Aviation reported how Sydney Airport’s chief executive, Geoff Culbert, said international numbers are lagging behind pre-COVID due to a lack of capacity.
“There is significantly more work to do to rebuild overseas travel, with international passenger traffic still well behind pre-pandemic levels and lower flight numbers,” he said.
“Australia needs to unlock more capacity, and quickly, if we want to see a sustained recovery for our tourism, education, and export industries.”
Adelaide Airport’s MD, Brenton Cox, told the Australian Aviation podcast last year that Australia’s response to COVID also put many tourists off booking flights.
“What we have seen is that it’s the Aussies who are getting out and seeing the world – but people aren’t coming here,” he said.
“I just remember looking at the scenes when Djokovic was being booted out of the Australian Open. And at that moment, you went, ‘Wow, it’s a lot of eyeballs on this.’
“And there are a lot of people who – similar to the state border risk – thought, ‘Well, if I come to this country, am I going to be trapped? Or am I going to be stuck in a detention centre?’