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DESTINATIONS Australia


AVOIDING THE HERD MENTALITY


With Australia facing an influx of inbound visitors, its airports are jostling for pole position WORDS: MICHAEL DORAN


I


n the past decade, total annual passenger movements at Australian airports have risen


from 122.5 million in 2008 to 162.8 million in 2018, a 33% increase that the system is struggling to cope with. The fastest growth is in international


traffic, where annual passenger movements in the same period have grown by 77% from 23.5 million to 41.6 million. The largest gateway, Sydney, is so


constrained by curfew and movement caps that it is in danger of losing its crown as the most popular arrival airport, after handling 44.4 million passengers last year, of whom 16.7 million were from overseas.


Gert-Jan de Graaff


In a game of catch-up, Brisbane is building a new runway, while Melbourne and Perth have new runways in the pipeline and a second international airport is under construction in Sydney. With inbound tourism forecast to grow by 65% in the next five years, the race is on to get new infrastructure in place. The fastest out of the blocks is Brisbane. Gert-Jan de Graaff, CEO of Brisbane


Airport Corporation, is investing more than a million dollars every day constructing a new runway.


76 ISSUE 2 ROUTES NEWS 2019 routesonline.com


With Sydney constrained and Melbourne facing capacity issues, de Graaff says Brisbane is in great shape to capitalise on the new runway opening in 2020. “We are a 24/7 operation, which is


incredibly important because having capacity throughout the day and night is essential for us to grow and maintain our business, particularly for airlines who are coming from curfew-constrained airports,” he says. “Like all international airports in


Australia, we are time-takers, and that means the international services in and out of Brisbane are largely controlled by capacity availability at major airport hubs overseas.” In 2018, Brisbane’s international passengers totalled six million, and the airport forecasts this will grow to nine million by 2027. There are more than 600 flights daily, well below the airport’s capacity of 1,500 when the new runway opens. “We are nearing capacity in our peak times, but if an airline approaches us who wants to operate in the middle of the peak, we can make it happen,” de Graaff says.


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