In another record year for Australian aviation, Australian and international airlines flew more than 82 million passengers last year.
Today, I released the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics’ (BITRE) annual reports on international and domestic airline activity.
These reports show that international passenger numbers rose 5 per cent in 2011, to more than 28 million. This puts us well above the Asia Pacific average of 4.3 per cent growth for last year.
They also show how Australia’s benefitting from the Asian Century, with the five fastest growing countries for travel last year all in Asia.
Passengers between China and Australia increased by more than 38 per cent, Indonesia over 22 per cent and Vietnam more than 7 per cent.
Despite major setbacks for domestic aviation, such as the grounding of Tiger, Qantas and the impact of volcanic ash from Chile, domestic passenger numbers grew by 0.6 per cent to over 54 million in 2011.
In fact, much of this growth came from our regional centres and was supported by the mining boom.
For example, Newcastle to Melbourne was up nearly 16 per cent, Brisbane – Mackay was up almost 14 per cent and Perth – Port Hedland grew more than 12 per cent.
Flying is today five times more affordable than it was 20 years ago, thanks to greater competition and the rise of low-cost airlines.
The number of passengers flown by low-cost carriers alone has grown nearly four-fold in the last five years.
Although Sydney remains the busiest airport for international passengers, its growth was the slowest among our capital cities.
Melbourne and Adelaide’s international passengers grew 9.9 and 9.5 per cent respectively over 12 month – nearly four times faster than Sydney (2.5 per cent).
The report also showed that Sydney was responsible for the two busiest domestic routes in the country.
One out of every seven passengers nationally flew between Sydney and Melbourne and one out of 12 passengers flew between Brisbane and Sydney.
These facts highlight both the economic impact and the consequences for airlines and passengers if they can’t get access to Sydney in the future.
The fact is that Sydney needs a second airport to handle growing international and domestic demand and create jobs in the economy.
A strong aviation sector is vital for our economy, for tourism, business and importantly, for jobs.
International experience shows that every one million passengers create 1,000 jobs.
The Government is committed supporting our aviation industry and delivering jobs and economic benefits across the nation.
BITRE’s International and Domestic reports are attached or can be downloaded from: www.bitre.gov.au.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.