The number of flights through Gold Coast Airport could nearly double by Easter, as Australians restart their travel plans – provided domestic borders remain open.
The expected increase to about 50 return flights a day will see the airport’s domestic capacity approach pre-COVID-19 levels, after record lows over the past twelve months.
QAL CEO Chris Mills said the swift turnaround in flight numbers would deliver significant benefits to tourism and hospitality businesses on the Gold Coast and in northern NSW.
“While further travel restrictions in February dampened passenger numbers, we entered March with borders open across Australia and our full domestic network connections restored for Gold Coast Airport,” he said.
“With demand building, we are seeing airlines load significant additional capacity for the Easter period and beyond. As Australians become more confident that our state borders will remain open, we will see very strong growth – and Gold Coast is at the top of the wish list for travellers.”
Mr Mills said Gold Coast Airport also looked forward to welcoming new airline partner Rex at the end of the month, with twice daily flights between the Gold Coast and Sydney and Melbourne selling well for the carrier.
The February numbers, which were just released, highlighted the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on airports in the past 12 months, with 159,533 passengers or 65 per cent fewer than the year before flying in and out of Gold Coast Airport.
The Sydney route became the airport’s busiest during the month once again, after the Queensland border reopened to travellers from greater Sydney on 1 February. But Melbourne and Perth travellers were unable to enter Queensland for about half the month, reducing flight and passenger numbers on both routes.
Mr Mills said the encouraging start to the vaccine rollout in February signalled another step in recovery, and opened the door for international travel plans to start.
“The conversation needs to progress now on international travel so that we can be ready to re-open our border at the right time, in line with the rest of the world,” he said.
Gold Coast Airport is currently operating services to Sydney, Melbourne, Cairns, Canberra, Adelaide, Hobart, Newcastle, Avalon, Perth and Townsville.