ALMOST 6.5 million passengers have passed through the Gold Coast Airport in the last twelve months – more than 200,000 than the year before.
The airport at Coolangatta was the only one of the four major regional airports operated by Queensland Airports Limited (QAL) to record growth in the 2017 financial year.
The spike in passengers helped QAL set a new passenger record, with more than 8.2 million people passing through its four airports on the Gold Coast and in Townsville, Mount Isa, and Longreach in the last twelve months.
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Of the 6,484,678 million people to pass through the Gold Coast Airport, more than 5.3 million of them were domestic travellers (up 2%) while more than 567,700 were from New Zealand (up 8.9%).
QAL CEO Chris Mills said the Gold Coast Airport’s performance was boosted by a further 11 per cent growth in long haul international services.
“This year we have added four additional weekly services to Kuala Lumpur, while our Hong Kong route has increased to three services each week and up to daily at peak times such as Chinese New Year,” Mr Mills said.
“The capacity on these routes shows the affinity international visitors have with the Gold Coast, and likewise, the appetite Gold Coasters have for holidaying in Asia.
“Domestically, we had our first full year of services to Melbourne Tullamarine with Qantas, Melbourne Avalon with Jetstar and Rockhampton/Townsville with JetGo.”
The Sydney and Melbourne routes continue to be the airport’s most popular domestic service.
“It is going to be increasingly difficult to grow passenger numbers significantly until the terminal is expanded,” Mr Mills said.
“The continuous increases in passenger movements are putting pressure on our terminal’s capacity and we look forward to completing the redevelopment program, which is being staged over the next few years.
“Some elements, including new check-in facilities and expansion of the apron capacity, will be complete
by next year’s Commonwealth Games, but major works will not start until the Games are over.”
Mr Mills said while Townsville’s numbers were flat (down 0.04%), the recent commencement of new domestic and international services provided encouraging signs for the coming year.
“The outlook for Townsville Airport is positive following the recent launch of services to Melbourne with Tigerair and Port Moresby with Air Niugini,” Mr Mills said.
“Tigerair’s reports suggest demand on the Melbourne route has been good since launching in June, particularly around school and public holidays with their core market of budget and leisure travellers.
“The increasingly positive sentiment around Townsville generally is evident, and we are planning for the coming growth. We also see Townsville as the logical FIFO hub for activity in the wider region.
“Our airport redevelopment works, the apron component of which is now underway, are ready to go ahead as soon as Qantas comes on board. We will work with our airline partners to ensure that the gateway to Townsville is growing in step with the city itself.”
Mr Mills said while Mount Isa Airport recorded a modest decline over the year (-2.4%), it moved into the new financial year off a strong base following five consecutive months of growth.
He said Longreach Airport’s apparent decline of -11.6 percent was exacerbated due to a change in the way its transit passengers are recorded, which if adjusted would actually reflect slight growth year on year.
“Economic conditions are challenging right now in many parts of regional Queensland, but we are here for the long haul. We are committed to growing these airports and supporting the communities they serve,” Mr Mills said.
“At Mount Isa Airport we have delivered a solar car park which generates up to 94 per cent of the terminal’s daytime energy needs, and at Longreach Airport we have concluded works to a wildlife proof fence around the airstrip to provide a more secure airside operating environment.
“Together, these projects represent an investment of close to $4 million by QAL.”