South Australia and the Northern Territory’s decision to lift their borders to NSW caused Sydney Airport’s domestic passenger traffic to double in October.
In a statement to the ASX, the business said it welcomed 187,000 people, double the 98,000 in September. However, traffic is still significantly lower than the 276,000 in July, during the brief window when Queensland kept its borders open to Sydney.
Internationally, the situation in Sydney remained much the sae, with 38,000 passengers passing through the airport, consistent with the 34,000 in September.
However, numbers are set to receive a huge boost next week when the NSW–Victoria border opens.
Already, Qantas and Jetstar have said they will increase the amount of flights per week between Victoria and NSW from just 10 to 250 when the border opens.
The new services, across five routes, will return the business to 40 per cent pre-pandemic capacity and mean more employees can return to work.
Currently, the Qantas Group is only operating flights between Sydney and Melbourne but later this month that will include services to and from Ballina Byron Bay, Mildura, Newcastle and Bendigo.
Andrew David, chief executive of the group’s domestic and international operations, said the news was great for business and getting people back to work.
“Pre-COVID, Melbourne-Sydney was the busiest air route in Australia and the second busiest in the world,” said David. “On a busy day, Qantas and Jetstar would operate more than 100 flights per day between New South Wales and Victoria. During the lockdown, our schedule reduced to as low as one flight a day.
“New South Wales has led the way in taking a sensible, risk-based approach to borders that’s supported by what is probably one of the best contact tracing programs in the world. It’s great to see New South Wales and Victoria working together on what is a national issue.
“Queensland and Western Australia are unfortunately taking a different approach, which doesn’t seem based on a realistic assessment of risk.”
October’s boost was due to SA relaxing restrictions on 24 September and the NT on 9 October.
South Australia is currently in a six-day hard lockdown, while Queensland, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and WA have effectively closed their borders to the southern state.