The FINANCIAL — International passenger numbers through Brisbane Airport (BNE) grew by nearly 260,000 to more than 5 million in FY15, representing a 5.4 per cent increase on FY14.
Overall passenger numbers, including domestic traffic, saw a modest increase of 0.7 per cent year-on-year, to 22.02 million travellers for the financial year, according to Brisbane Airport Corporation.
Julieanne Alroe Brisbane Airport CEO and Managing Director said while growth was lower than in previous years, in the current climate it is encouraging to see consistent international passenger growth.
“The real gains this year have been made through the increase in international travel which has been stimulated by a 4.5 per cent increase in overseas flights and the addition of more than 180,000 seats to and from Brisbane in FY15.
“Domestically, it’s been another challenging year with BNE experiencing a sudden reduction in flights and available seats over the last 12 months with 540,000 fewer seats on offer.
“The majority of these lost seats, 85 per cent, were to and from intrastate ports, as the airlines reacted to the reduced demand by the FIFO (fly-in fly-out) segment caused by the softening of the resources industry.
“The positive in this is, I believe, we have reached greater equilibrium between supply and demand at BNE following several years of unprecedented growth in capacity due to industry competition and the resources boom.
“Now that balance has been restored we can look forward to more sustainable growth in the future,” Ms Alroe said.
Every month saw an increase in international passenger numbers in FY15 with the greatest growth experienced in March 2015 when an additional 44,000 travellers (12 per cent increase) were recorded.
China was the fastest growing Asian market (+ 23 per cent), overtaking the UK to become BNE’s third largest source market. These numbers were boosted by the busiest Chinese New Year on record, when visitors from mainland China were up 15 per cent on 2014 and up 300 per cent compared to 10 years ago.
Germany was the fastest growing European market (+ 8 per cent), overtaking France to become BNE’s eighth largest source market.
Looking ahead, the new Qantas Tokyo (Narita) – BNE services launching 1 August will be a key driver of the forecast growth in international passenger volumes in FY16.
New Air Canada BNE-Vancouver services starting mid-June 2016 are also expected to provide a boost at the end of the financial year.
Compared to strong positive changes in capacity in prior years (nearly 5 million seats added in the last three years), there was a reduction in seat availability in FY15 of 2.3 per cent or 540,000 seats, which contributed to domestic passenger numbers declining marginally (-0.6 per cent).
Some of the difference in supply can be attributed to flight cancellations around the G20 summit in November 2014 and several weather events – Cyclone Marcia in February 2015, a major rain event in New South Wales in April 2015, and a major Brisbane rain event in May 2015.
Monthly domestic passenger growth was recorded in four out of 12 months, including October 2014 when a new passenger record was set – more than 1.57 million travellers; up 24,913 on the prior record set in October 2013.
The busiest day at the Domestic Terminal was on 3 October with 62,227 arrivals and departures.