International passenger numbers jumped 60% in March

Singapore and Qantas aircraft, as shot by Victor Pody.

Nearly 700,000 international passengers passed through Australian airports in March 2022, an uptick of 60 per cent compared to February.

It marked the first full month in which fully vaccinated tourists from around the globe were once again allowed to visit Australia, after the federal government lifted restrictions for tourists from 21 February.

It’s a significant result after February saw 436,000 international passengers pass through Australian airports, while 442,000 did so in January, according to the Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics (BITRE).

However, despite the strong result, March’s figures still remain 78.8 per cent lower than that of March 2019 – prior to the COVID pandemic – in which 3.2 million passengers travelled to or from Australia.

Of the 697, 969 international travellers at Australian airports in March, 54 per cent were arrivals into the country.

Meanwhile, Singapore Airlines continued to make up the largest share of Australia’s international travel market in March, carrying 18.9 per cent of all passengers, followed by Qantas with 14.6 per cent, Emirates with 14.0 per cent, and Air New Zealand with 9.4 per cent.

Domestically, Australia saw 3.91 million domestic travellers in March 2022.

While this marked a 45.35 per cent improvement on February’s data, which was heavily impacted by the Omicron outbreak, traveller data from March remains 29.0 per cent lower than that of March 2019.

Elsewhere, the BITRE data showed that Melbourne narrowly beat out Sydney as the country’s busiest airport for domestic activity in March, with 1.52 million passengers passing through, compared to Sydney’s 1.51 million. Before the pandemic, Sydney was consistently the country’s busiest airport.

Brisbane followed in third with 1.03 million passenger movements, while Cairns was dubbed the country’s busiest regional airport in March, with 185,000 passengers.

Sydney-Melbourne remained the country’s most popular city pair for flights, followed by Brisbane-Sydney.

Earlier this month, Australian Aviation reported that international arrivals into Australia is still down nearly 80 per cent compared to pre-COVID, despite border restrictions lifting.

Data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed 374,630 international arrivals in March, up 28 per cent on February this year and far lower than the 1.66 million recorded in March 2019.

It also comes after Tourism Australia launched a $40 million global campaign to bring international travellers back down under in February.

It was the first widespread international campaign that the government tourism body has been able to produce and run since before the COVID pandemic and the 2020 bushfire crisis.

Titled “Don’t Go Small. Go Australia”, it included a 30-second ad that was rolled out across Germany, France, Italy, the US and UK.

The 30-second TV advertisement featured a montage of iconic Australian landscapes, such as the Great Barrier Reef, Sydney Harbour and Uluru.

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