Domestic flights are at their fullest despite disruptions

Sydney Australia - June 1, 2017: People travel at Sydney domestic airport in Sydney Australia.

The number of domestic flights travelling with full loads recently hit its highest level since records began in 1984 as aviation continues to recover from its struggles.

Data from the Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics (BITRE) showed the July domestic passenger load figure at 85.8 per cent, beating the 2019 record of 84.5 per cent.

The routes with the least available seats during the peak holiday season were Cairns to Melbourne, Gold Coast to Melbourne and Adelaide to Gold Coast, with average load factors of 95.2 per cent, 95 per cent and 94.6 per cent respectively.

The most popular domestic route is Melbourne to Sydney, carrying 4.2 million people in 2022, followed by Brisbane-Sydney, which carried 2 million.

Airlines have reduced their capacity this year to keep up with record-high demand while impeded by insufficient staff levels and operational challenges. While travel demand is high, passengers have struggled with high cancellation rates, delays and long queues at the airport.

High travel demand is not limited to the Aussie domestic market, with new data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) showing air traffic globally has risen to 70 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.

North America was the region with the highest passenger load, with a 145 per cent increase in August year-on-year, a capacity increase of 72 per cent and a load factor of 87 per cent. European carriers followed North America’s airlines, with August traffic jumping 79 per cent year-on-year, with a passenger load factor of 85.5 per cent and a 48 per cent capacity increase.

“Considering the prevailing economic uncertainties, travel demand is progressing well,” IATA director general Willie Walsh said, adding the removal of travel restrictions in areas, including Japan, will accelerate Asia’s recovery.

The last major market to remove its COVID travel restrictions is China. APAC airlines saw a 449 per cent increase in traffic compared to August 2021, with a capacity increase of 167 per cent. This is expected to skyrocket once China opens its border.

Featured Image: Sydney Domestic Airport (iStock/TkKurikawa)

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