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June data shows surprises in international travel from Australia

Reductions in schedule and competition has allowed reasonable load factors on selected outbound flights.

Despite the effective closure of Australian borders with the 14 day self funded hotel quarantine rule on entry to Australia and limitations on Australians travelling overseas, there has been significant traffic both inbound (25K pax) and outbound (40K pax) of Australia in June 2020.

The table below show the top five city pairs for June 2020.

Passenger Flights City Pair   Jun-20 % of Total
Sydney Doha  7 489 11.6%
Melbourne Doha  6 526 10.1%
Brisbane Doha  3 961 6.1%
Sydney San Francisco  3 729 5.8%
Sydney Auckland  3 595 5.5%

Key points:

  1. Many airlines are recording high load factors, especially outbound with an reduced schedule, even though it is mainly repatriation traffic.  For example, Asiana's once weekly service from Sydney to Seoul on the A350 is averaging an 88% load factor, plus revenue from belly frieght. 
  2. Despite high cases of COVID 19 in the Americas, there are still regular passenger flights on LATAM and United.
  3. In the Japan Market, only ANA is left operating passenger services. Japan Airlines operates frieght only services to Sydney, and has re-entered the Brisbane market with a once weekly freight service in August.  While Japanese airlines have a stronghold on the Australia to Japan frieght market, it is a difficult route to sustain with ANA reporting 7% and 37% load factors for inbound and outbound from Australia respectively.
  4. Some flights are operated as freight only despite using passenger aircraft, hence reducing the reported load factor.
  5. Sydney Airport is by far the biggest for freight in June 2020, recording an increase compared with June 2019, while all other capital cities have dropped the tonnage freight carried. 

The following table shows the top 10 airlines flying internationally to Australia in June 2020, with their % market share in June 2019 shown in comparison.

Share of passengers carried Jun-19 Jun-20
Qatar Airways 3.3% 32.0%
Air New Zealand 6.0% 14.3%
United Airlines 1.2% 5.8%
Emirates 7.2% 5.7%
Air India 0.5% 4.7%
Cathay Pacific Airways 4.6% 4.6%
China Southern Airlines 2.6% 4.2%
Asiana Airlines 0.5% 3.7%
China Eastern Airlines 1.9% 2.6%
Singapore Airlines 9.0% 2.6%

Source - Data is sourced from BITRE.  https://bit.ly/3gEpNck

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