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Australia’s international aviation capacity needs to grow by 40-50 per cent to support the Tourism 2020 strategy.

Air access is one of the critical elements in achieving the Australian tourism industry’s long term goal to grow overnight tourism expenditure to more than $115 billion annually by the end of the decade. Tourism Australia works closely with airlines, Australian airports, and State and Tourism Organisations (STOs) to market existing and new routes, helping to build demand and grow sustainable aviation capacity to Australia.


Growth in passenger numbers

Tourism Australia reported that over the last two decades, international aviation capacity to Australia has grown from 9.3 million inbound seats in 1995 to 25.6 million seats in 2017, which represents a 4.9 per cent average annual growth rate. This increase has been driven by increased capacity from New Zealand, Southeast Asia (Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia), China, the Middle East and the USA. International aviation capacity is expected to grow 7 per cent in 2017, with the bulk of growth coming from China.

In terms of Australia's major airports, seat utilisation in 2015-16 was highest in Adelaide at 81.7 per cent (increase of 4.8 per cent year-on-year), followed by Sydney at 81.1 per cent (down slightly by 0.4 per cent), Melbourne at 80.9 per cent (up 0.6 per cent), Brisbane at 78.6 per cent (an increase of 1.1 per cent), Gold Coast remained stable at 77.5 per cent and Perth at 76.5 per cent (up 2.6 per cent).

The graph below shows the seats operated on international scheduled passenger services over the past five years, across Australia's major airports.