Sydney Airport still Australia's Largest International Airport

28th Feb 2013

Sydney Airport continues to be the leading international gateway in Australia.

In 2012, the Sydney Airport handled more than 12 million international passengers out of the close to 37 million passengers. The figure represents a 3.6% total passenger growth over the preceding period. The airport recorded December 2012 as the busiest month ever in the airport's history, posting a passenger growth of 5.2%.

According to the airport's CEO, Kerrie Mather, December of 2012 saw a record number of passengers passing through the airport, making it the busiest month ever in history. The 36.9 million passengers posted in 2012 was also a record in Australia's commercial aviation history, driven primarily by exceptional growth in both local and international travel. The growing demand of air travel in the region is also well-met by the growing supply of product as more airlines, both local and international, have expanded their network and seat capacity to Australia. Among international LCCs offering expanded capacity include AirAsia X, Jetstar and Scoot. Jetstar Australia and Tiger Airways are local budget carriers with extensive domestic network across the continent.

The airport executive noted that the international traffic grew by 5.8% during December 2012 and 5.3% for the whole year. The growth was primarily driven by the resurgence of international tourism/inbound growth. The biggest increase in inbound international traffic for December 2012 was attributed to Malaysian and Singaporean visitors who posted a 59% and 34% respectively. Outbound traffic, meanwhile, increased by 6.5% for the same month and 5.9% for the whole year of 2012.

The outbound traffic growth was attributed mainly to a growing interest in travel to countries in Southeast Asia, particularly to Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand and even distant destinations in Japan, UK, USA, and UAE.

In December 2012, China Eastern debuted a thrice-weekly direct service to Sydney from Nanjing. Now, the airline is operating a dozen flights a week on the route, making Sydney Airport the premier gateway for Chinese tourists.

On the domestic front, passengers grew a measly 2.7% over the previous year. Jetstar and Tiger are the most aggressive airlines, both expanding their respective network while, at the same time, increasing seat capacity and flight frequency on existing routes.

Most of the major international travel markets grew during the year, ranging from +59% by Malaysians to 1% by UK nationals. Other international tourists that post positive growth include Singapore's +34%, India's +15%, China's +8, Germany's +6%, Canada's +5%, Japan's +5%, USA's +3%, New Zealand's +2%.

Based on airport statistics, the 12.2 million total international passengers only represent one third of the total passengers passing through Sydney Airport. However, it remains the primary gateway for international visitors to the country.