The owner of Gold Coast Airport says the city is ‘missing out’ because of Queensland’s prolonged border closure, and the inability of health officials around the country to properly determine what a hotspot is.
It comes as the airport releases figures showing the dramatic fall in passenger numbers flying into the Gold Coast has continued for the sixth straight month.
Just 21,957 people travelled through the airport in September, a drop of 96 per cent on the same time last year.
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The airport has now seen a drop of more than 3 million passengers since borders were shut in late March.
Queensland Airports Limited CEO Chris Mills says that has had a devastating impact on operations at Gold Coast Airport.
“Gold Coast Airport is normally the sixth busiest airport in Australia, welcoming and farewelling about 18,000 passengers and with 60 return flights daily,” Mr Mills said.
“But in September there were only three to four return flights per day, with an average of 750 passengers.”
The lack of flights from Sydney and Melbourne has hit the airport the hardest.
The Sydney-Gold Coast route was previously the fourth busiest in the country prior to the pandemic.
Gold Coast Airport has been forced to shed 30 per cent of its workforce as a result of the downturn.
Work on a new terminal has also been delayed and is now not due to open until 2022.
However the new Rydges Airport hotel is still on track to open before the end of the year.
Mr Mills says reopening the border to New South Wales is the first major step towards getting the airport going again.
“What appeared to be the most promising prospect, a reopening to New South Wales, is dependent on that state achieving an extremely high hurdle of 28 days with no unlinked community transmission.
“The lack of realistic nationwide definitions to determine a hot spot, or to clarify when borders will open or close, makes forecasting a return of domestic travel difficult.
“If Australia can’t get together and agree rules for domestic travel, people start to question our ability to re-open international travel. The Gold Coast is a key destination for New Zealand and Asian markets. There is significant pent up demand which the Gold Coast is missing out on at the moment.”