Gold Coast Airport played host to dozens of family reunions and excited holiday makers from all corners of the country today when visitors returned and departed from the region for the first time in months.
Regular services to and from Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart and Perth all resumed today as Queensland border restrictions eased for Sydney and Victoria from 1am this morning.
A skydiver flew over the airport displaying the celebratory “we’re open” message. Tourism operators from across the city converged on the terminal to join with the airport team in giving arriving passengers a warm Gold Coast welcome.
Queensland Airports Limited CEO Chris Mills said it was an exciting day for the airport team, which was preparing for the busiest month since March.
“Today is an important milestone in the recovery for Gold Coast Airport and all the businesses we support, which have been impacted by the dramatic reduction in flights and passengers since late March,” he said.
“We had 34 return flights last week and this week there will be 56 return flights between Sydney and Melbourne alone, so the increase is significant.
“By the end of this month we will see close to 100 return flights a week between the Gold Coast and Sydney and about 60 between the Gold Coast and Melbourne.
“We are expecting more passengers in December than we welcomed in the previous eight months combined.
“The increase in visitors we are seeing from today will be a welcome boost for the tourism industry leading into the peak holiday period and allow friends and families to reconnect at Christmas.”
Mr Mills said passenger numbers at the airport had been significantly impacted by the Queensland border closure for most of the year and recovery to pre-COVID-19 levels would take some time.
“We have been operating at 5 per cent of usual capacity or less for the past several months,” he said.
“Today is certainly a turning point in terms of our recovery, but there is an ongoing need for consistent and transparent border decisions, giving people the confidence to travel and sufficient time to plan.”
Gold Coast-Sydney and Gold Coast-Melbourne are expected to be the busiest and second busiest routes for Jetstar in December.
Destination Gold Coast Chairman Paul Donovan said the resumption of flights and enhanced airline connectivity was critical to rebuilding the Gold Coast’s $6 billion tourism economy.
“Demand for travel, particularly for families wanting to visit the Gold Coast continues to be high, so we must capitalise on our brand equity as a market leader and preferred holiday destination,” he said.
“Gold Coast’s largest ever $3.5 million tourism campaign is currently in market and we remain committed to capturing the hearts, minds and wallets of travellers to come and play in Australia’s favourite playground.
“Sydneysiders and Melburnians are high-spending travellers who holiday longer and spend more for the benefit of operators, hoteliers, restaurants and attractions.
“They’ve been missed, and we are delighted to welcome them back.”
Hygiene and communication measures in the terminal continue as flight schedules increase, to help keep passengers safe. Passengers are also being reminded not to travel if they are unwell.
Queensland Airports Limited operates Gold Coast, Townsville, Mount Isa and Longreach airports.