Regional airport passenger numbers down 30pc in 2020-21

Passenger movements at Australia’s 50 busiest regional airports fell by an average of 30 percent in 2020-21 because of Covid-19 travel restrictions.

Ayers Rock (Yulara) suffered the steepest decline in passenger movements – around 80 percent – according to new figures published this week.

Passenger movements at Mildura airport (South Australia) and Hervey Bay airport (Queensland) both shrank by around 67 percent

Passenger movements at regional airports servicing areas with significant fly-in fly-out workforces remained relatively unscathed by Covid’s impacts.

Olympic Dam airport in outback South Australia posted a drop in passenger movements of 5.9 percent in the year ending June 2021 compared with the previous year.

At Paraburdoo, in WA’s Pilbara, passenger movements fell by just 0.4 percent, while movements at Karratha and Kalgoorlie, also on WA fell by four and six percent respectively.

The Australian domestic aviation activity annual publication for 2020-21 indicates that passenger movements at all regional airports fell by an average of 30.4 percent.

Some 24.98 million passengers were carried on all Australian domestic commercial aviation services to June 2021 (including charter operations), a decrease of 48 percent on the previous year.

A Senate committee inquiry report into the future of Australia’s aviation sector post-Covid is expected to be handed down next month.

The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) lodged a submission to the inquiry in December 2020 which stated that Commonwealth support to the aviation industry during the pandemic has not adequately assisted airports.

“ALGA also notes that the exclusion of local governments from JobKeeper disproportionately affected council-operated airports and the communities they serve in regional and remote Australia,” the submission said.