Network growth puts Adelaide on international airlines’ radar

Following the announcement that World Routes 2019 will take place in Adelaide, Australia, hosted by South Australian Tourism Commission, Tourism Australia and Adelaide Airport, Routesonline takes a closer look at its aviation sector.

Adelaide Airport is offering its busiest summer and winter flight schedules this year, buoyed by a new regular link into the Middle East from Qatar Airways that offers enhanced connectivity and is expected to generate an extra $41 million into South Australia’s visitor economy. A new China Southern link to Guangzhou in China will join the network from December 12, 2016, the fourth new non-stop international route from Adelaide this decade during which time international seat capacity has increased 66 percent.

The daily Qatar Airways service to Hamad International Airport in Doha was launched from May 2, 2016 and brings more than 550 additional two-way seats into the Adelaide international network. It is flown by the Gulf carrier’s brand new Airbus A350 airliner offering 36 Business Class and 247 Economy seats per rotation.

Alongside Adelaide’s existing Emirates Airline flight into Dubai (launched in 2012), Cathay Pacific Airways to Hong Kong (introduced in 2011), Malaysia Airlines to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore Airlines to Singapore, the Qatar Airways flight has significantly boosted Adelaide’s international connectivity, particularly into Europe and the GCC.

Latest annual figures show international visitors to South Australia were up by almost 10 percent year-on-year in 2015, and those arrivals spent $897 million while they visited. “International visitors are critical to the state’s economy, and the State Government is committed to continuing to increase the number of international visitors to help us achieve our goal of an $8 billion tourism industry by 2020,”said Hon Leon Bignell, South Australia’s minister for agriculture, food and fisheries, forests, tourism, recreation and sport, and racing.

Adelaide Airport is now Australia’s fastest growing capital city airport handling around eight million passengers annually. Expansion to the international arrivals hall will facilitate increased international visitor flows and allow it to further grow its overseas network, especially growing China arrivals through a new Guangzhou link that offers easy connections to other mainland cities.

The Chinese route has been secured through strong cooperation between the South Australia Government and Adelaide Airport. Tourism is one of South Australia’s key economic drivers, and the State Government committed another $35 million over two years in its 2016/17 State budget - this is in addition to the $35 million committed over two years in last year’s budget. In the 12 months to March 2016, China was the state’s fourth largest tourism market (34,000 visitors) – a five-fold increase from a decade ago.

“Our partner Adelaide Airport Limited has been instrumental in our discussions with China Southern, and we are grateful for their commitment to working with us to grow the number of international services coming into Adelaide,” said premier, Hon Jay Weatherill.

More than $500 million in infrastructure upgrades have already taken place at Adelaide Airport to support its growth, and an additional $1 billion is forecasted to be invested over the next five years to turn Australia’s fifth largest city to develop into a big city while retaining its small city charm.

The arrival of Qatar Airways has already started to grow international arrivals with Q4 FY2016 showing a 0.1 percent rise over its initial five weeks of operation. The data remains skewed though for the full financial year with international traffic down 8.3 percent compared to last year due to significant capacity cuts into Malaysia – the closure of the daily AirAsia X service in January 2015 and Malaysia Airlines reductions in September 2015 meant a net reduction of 10 services per week to Kuala Lumpur.

The Adelaide air service market is dominated by domestic flows (which account for 89.1 percent of passenger traffic) and this market continues to grow with domestic passengers up 2.4 percent in Q4 FY2016 to 1.71 million, led by passenger increases on the primary capital city markets of Sydney (+3.3 percent), Melbourne (+2.4 percent) and Brisbane (+4.3 percent).

Data from AirVision Market Intelligence from Sabre Airline Solutions for the past year (12 months to August 2016) show Melbourne (2,661 PPDEW), Sydney (2,104 PPDEW), Brisbane (1,016 PPDEW), Perth (800 PPDEW) and Gold Coast (331 PPDEW) as its largest markets. Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar, Bali is the largest international market to/from Adelaide (201 PPDEW), a route served by Jetstar Airways and Tigerair Australia, and supports Indonesia as the largest country market with a two-way flow of over 150,000 annual passengers.

Other significant O&D country markets comprise New Zealand (165 PPDEW), USA (162 PPDEW), UK (155 PPDEW), China (96 PPDEW) and India (82 PPDEW) with the largest unserved international routes being London Heathrow (90 PPDEW), Los Angeles (44 PPDEW), Delhi (41 PPDEW), Phuket (36 PPDEW) and Christchurch (34 PPDEW).