Jul 18, 2008

9.5 Million more passengers are flying on Regional Air Routes

9.5 Million more passengers are flying on Regional Air Routes


The Hon Anthony Albanese

Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

July 18 2008

More people than ever before are flying to and from regional Australia to visit family, take a holiday or do business.

That’s the main finding of the most comprehensive report ever written on aviation services beyond our capital cities which I’m releasing today: Air transport services in regional Australia: trends and access.

Between 1984 and 2005 the annual number of passengers flying on regional air routes rose from 6.5 million to 16 million, with growth averaging 4.4 per cent a year.

The strong passenger figures reflect the strength of many regional economies as well as the success of the tourism marketing campaigns and more affordable ticket prices.

But the good news of an extra 9.5 million passengers flying on regional routes is tempered by the report’s other findings:


  •  Annual growth in passenger numbers was strongest on routes between major cities and major tourist destinations (7.9 per cent) – routes often operated by major airlines using high capacity aircraft. Growth on these routes – for example, Melbourne–Hamilton Island – even exceeded the growth record on routes between the capital cities.
  •  By contrast, the annual growth on routes between major cities and other regional centres averaged 4.2 per cent; while passenger traffic between regional centres – for example, Dubbo–Parkes – fell by an average of 1.5 per cent a year.


  •  The number of regional airports served by airlines declined from 278 to 170. Almost half of the regional routes (401) have been cancelled – particularly those with infrequent services, very few passengers and covering short distances.


  • The level of market concentration has increased over time, with fewer airlines carrying the growing number of passengers. What’s more, of the 35 airlines serving regional airports in 2005, only five had operated continuously since 1984.


If regional Australia is to continue reaping the economic and social benefits of aviation, we need to plan ahead now. As well as the long term changes outlined above, regional services are also adversely affected by more immediate difficulties such as a lack of pilots and rising fuel costs.

That’s why the Rudd Labor Government has announced it will develop Australia’s first aviation White Paper to guide the industry growth over the next decade and beyond.

Public comment is a vital part of this process and I urge all those with an interest in the future of the Australian aviation industry to consider making a submission to the Green Paper when it’s released in September.

The White Paper should be finalised by the middle of next year.

Reports like the one I’m releasing today will also inform the Government’s deliberations.

More information about the development of the aviation White Paper can be found at http://www.infrastructure.gov.au/aviation/nap/.


In the meantime, the Government has used its first budget to make sure remote communities continue to receive regular, essential access to a weekly air service.

We have more than doubled funding for the Remote Air Services Subsidy (RASS) Scheme, subsidising weekly flights for Australians living in 239 remote and isolated areas who do not otherwise have access to a regular air service.

The flights deliver a weekly passenger and freight service. Goods delivered include medicines, fresh food and educational materials. Australia Post uses some of the same air operators to deliver mail. The funding boost reflects the increased cost of flying these routes, due in part to higher fuel prices.

The Budget also invests in measures to strengthen security at regional airports.

The Air transport services in regional Australia: trends and access report will be a valuable reference source for policy development and a benchmark for assessing future trends. More importantly, with the development of a consistent historical database we are now able to more accurately project future growth.

The publication was prepared by the Government’s Bureau of Infrastructure Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) and can be downloaded from: www.bitre.gov.au.


Routes that Recorded Biggest rise in Passenger Numbers in 2007
     Change (%)
 Hamilton Island (QLD)  Melbourne (VIC)    68
 Maroochydore (QLD)  Melbourne (VIC)  60
 Cairns (QLD)  Melbourne (VIC)  55
 Melbourne (VIC)  Williamtown (NSW)  45
 Alice Springs (NT)  Melbourne (VIC)  45
 Brisbane (QLD)   Williamtown (NSW)  44
 Broome (WA)   Karratha (WA)  39
 Katherine-Tind (NT)  Victoria River (NT)  35
 Cairns (QLD)  Karumba (QLD)  34
 Melbourne (VIC)  Wagga Wagga (NSW)  31
 Kalkgurung (NT)  Victoria River (NT)  31
 Learmonth (WA)  Perth (WA)  31



Routes that recorded the biggest fall in 2007
     Change (%)
 Orange (NSW) –  Parkes (NSW) – 43
 Bundaberg (QLD)  Rockhampton (QLD)  -45
 Broken Hill (NSW)  Sydney (NSW)  -47
 Elcho Island (NT)  Maningrida (NT)   -47
 Albany (WA)  Esperance (WA)  -52
 Hamilton Island (QLD)  Townsville (QLD)   -56
 Williamtown (NSW)  Port Macquarie (NSW)  -60
 Dubbo (NSW)  Parkes (NSW)  -60
 Adelaide (SA)  Kalgoorlie (WA)  -61
 Coober Pedy (SA)  Olympic Dam (SA )  -61
 Coffs Harbour (NSW) Williamtown (NSW)  -64
 Katherine-Tind (NT)  Tennant Creek (NT)  -80