International flights now at 90% capacity as airlines slow to return – Australian Aviation

Victor Pody photographed this Emirates A380-842 A6-EVK in a special ‘Journey to the Future’ livery.

International flights are now packed at 90 percent of seats, which is probably one of the highest occupancy rates in history.

But the high numbers are largely due to the slow return of airlines to Australia, with capacity – or seats for sale – down 45 per cent from pre-pandemic figures.

New BITRE figures released by the Department of Transport continue to show that international aviation is struggling to recover from the pandemic.

In September, 2,095,503 passengers traveled through the country – down 40 percent from the 3,496,774 passengers recorded in the same month in 2019. However, the figures are 5 percent better than in August.

There were 2,398,759 seats for sale last month, but that was far fewer than the 4,307,590 available in 2019.

The new report read: “In September 2022, in terms of passenger transportation, Qantas had the largest market share at 17.6 per cent, followed by Singapore Airlines at 12.3 per cent, Jetstar at 11.9 per cent and Air New Zealand at 9.7 per cent percent and Emirates with 8.0 percent.

“The Qantas group – Qantas Airways and Jetstar – accounted for 29.5 per cent of total passenger traffic in September 2022. The group’s share was 0 percent in September 2021 and 26.4 percent in September 2019.

“Australian designated airlines – Qantas Airways, Jetstar and Virgin Australia (2.3 per cent) accounted for 31.8 per cent of total passenger traffic in September 2022. Their share was 0.0 percent in September 2021 and 32.9 percent in September 2019.”

This comes as domestic airlines and airports prepare to return to pre-pandemic travel numbers for Christmas.

Earlier this month, Australian Aviation reported how Melbourne Airport’s monthly international passengers were up just 3 per cent compared to before the pandemic. Business in October reached 65 percent of international traffic over the same month in 2019, compared to a relative 62 percent in September.

The news from Melbourne about the slowing recovery of international aviation appears to reinforce predictions by Brisbane Airport CEO Gert-Jan de Graaff that total travel volumes will not exceed 2019 levels before 2025.

“Airlines need time to restart – some countries are still closed or have restrictions – and we need to rebuild passenger confidence to get back on flights,” he said. “However, I am confident that from 2025 onwards we will see volumes exceeding 2019 levels.

“International travel has also grown at a slower rate than domestic travel. We are currently back to around 50 percent of pre-COVID levels.”

Brenton Cox, MD of Adelaide Airport, has suggested that Australian authorities’ treatment of Novak Djokovic earlier this year was a factor discouraging tourists from visiting the country.

He previously argued that federal, not state, governments should have decided whether or not to close state borders.

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