Australia: international travel has surged in the 12 months since border reopening

Premium Analysis

One year after Australia reopened its borders to overseas travellers, Australia’s international traffic has climbed back towards pre-COVID levels far more quickly than most industry stakeholders predicted.

The stronger-than-expected recovery has meant international demand has outstripped supply, as many airlines serving Australia have not yet reactivated all their widebody aircraft. This has meant high load factors and fares – and a welcome financial boost for airlines.

The progress during the past year has been turbulent at times, as airlines and airports struggled to cope with the rapid return of traffic. Workforce shortages in Australia and elsewhere were a primary culprit, causing high-profile system disruptions that led to a temporary slowdown in the recovery.

Familiar patterns in international demand have shifted as different markets returned at widely varying rates. Looking ahead to the next phase of recovery, the factors to watch will be the continued return of widebody aircraft capacity and, most notably, the return of mainland China traffic.

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