Melbourne Airport has announced that its number of international passengers in September was still almost 40 per cent lower than before COVID 2019.
It comes to near-normal numbers despite the return of domestic aviation, with numbers down just 13 percent from the corresponding month.
The news shows the entire industry struggling to balance resource sourcing against two very different recoveries.
“In September 2022, a total of 582,481 passengers passed through the international terminal, compared with just 10,356 at the peak of Melbourne’s permanent lockdown 12 months earlier,” the company said.
“The school holidays and AFL Grand Final helped boost domestic travel, with 1,898,333 passengers handled through Melbourne Airport’s terminals, including the recently combined T3/T4.
“Despite growing demand for air travel, domestic passenger numbers fell 13 percent in September from the corresponding month in 2019, while international passengers fell 38 percent.
“This reflects the number of seats available, with domestic capacity at 84 percent of September 2019 levels and international capacity at 60 percent.”
While international figures are still down from 2019, September figures are up from the previous month’s 546,774 and represent the best month since lockdown ended.
Lorie Argus, CEO of Melbourne Airport, said: “We have worked hard with the Victoria State Government to ensure the world’s airlines understand what an incredible place Melbourne is and many airlines are listening.
“Today Thai Airways announced that it will increase its Bangkok service to double per day from December, which is a welcome return to pre-Covid-19 flight levels.
“Thai’s 14 weekly flights also provide important connectivity to other destinations in Southeast Asia, India and Europe.
“United Airlines will soon be flying daily between Melbourne and both LA and San Francisco, which is more than before the pandemic, and we look forward to welcoming back Air Asia X and Garuda Indonesia in the coming months, as well as Qantas’ new service to.” Dallas.
“We are also pleased to now see the results of our domestic airlines’ work to improve their operational safety, which is reflected in better on-time performance.”
It comes after Australian Aviation reported last month that Australian airports across the country are still welcoming fewer than half the international passengers they did before COVID-19, despite domestic travel almost returning to pre-pandemic numbers.
Improved staffing across the industry has also led Qantas to claim it fared better than rival Virgin on delays in September – despite being the worst-performing airline in Australia for months.
The company said in its latest market update that its “on-time performance” rose from 67 percent in August to 69 percent the following month.
While the figures have yet to be publicly verified by the Department of Transportation, it would mark a notable turnaround after it plummeted to just 45 percent in July.