January Airport

January growth numbers for Cairns Airport came in negative with domestic traffic down 1.4%, international up 4%, and combined total down 0.6%.

airport january 1airport january 2airport january 3

This wasn’t unexpected as posted last month. If anything given the recent lower growth numbers and the Chinese New Year move to mid February I wouldn’t have been at all surprised by something lower based on previous volatility at this time of year, although the 2017 CNY period was soft .

However, everything on the 12 month moving averages is still moving to lower growth. Domestic is the one to watch. I had intended to look more closely at the forward quarterly forecasts from the Airport last month. Indications appear to be that we could expect lower domestic capacity growth going forward than in recent years. TTNQ has recently indicated something similar in media reports:

“However, visitor growth will be constrained by access, so until more direct (international) flights are secured for Cairns we will not see the extraordinary growth experienced in the past few years.”

Qantas has been in the news for not paying tax. Don’t start me on some of the ignorance around information and partisan opinions on company tax. I suspect that tax situation is mostly related to the previous capacity war between Qantas and Virgin which saw big airline losses when Alan Joyce drew a line in the sand where Qantas would defend market share against a challenge form Virgin regardless .

There was also a tailwind with capacity shift from resource to tourism routes. We will have to see how this plays out with national seat capacity having been flat for a few years now:

airport january 4Source: BITRE

Qantas vows to keep seat numbers down, fares up as fuel costs rise

United Airlines in the USA recently sent market valuations for the entire sector there into a tailspin when it announced an intention to increase capacity by 5% or so.

Meanwhile:  JPMorgan fund to double down at Cairns Airport


Reef results FY2017

There is actually quite a lot in here for comment: proposed tourism hub; changes in control of significant owner Casinos Austria; local pokie competition and extension of trading hours; charter flights tourism debacle in the first half of 2017 never really resolved with finger pointing all round; and a few more ……

Reef Casino FY2017

Professionally provided by RCT as a scanned document so we can’t just cut & paste the relevant bits. Let me come back to it.


Perspectives on Employment

Two employment related posts on the latest Centrelink data:

Job Seeker data shows little change for Cairns

Disproportionate numbers of Newstart/Youth Allowance recipients in Far North Qld, Wide Bay-Burnett & Logan

Meanwhile, over at the somewhat retro website of Cummings Economics there are two posted PDF notes from Bill which take aim at the regional ABS statistics based on census data:


The ABS has also just posted some information on characteristics of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians: Census reveals jump in young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people working or studying:

Fifty two per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 to 24 years are fully participating in either education or work, up from 46 per cent in 2006. Those living in urban areas (55 per cent) are more likely to be fully engaged in work or study than those living in non-urban areas (42 per cent).

I think I would call that a step rather than a jump. Indigenous disadvantage remains the most critical challenge for the Far North.

Nova City Flurry

Aspial, Singaporean developer of the Nova City project in Cairns spun off their Malaysian and Australian interests on The Singapore second board last year as World Class Global.

WCG half year report as at June 30 2017:


WCG quarterly report as at September 30 2017:


Marketing email for Nova City received today from Irene at World Class Global:

I hope that you have had a wonderful break and ready for all the exciting things this new year will bring!

The most exciting thing of course, will be to see Nova City coming out of the ground. Construction is starting with pilings, the beginning of April!
We had a flurry of buying just prior to Christmas which saw some of our best two bedroom apartments sell to some local Cairns buyers so we recommend that if you are looking to purchase one of our apartments, that you beat the rush and secure your preferred apartment now. We only have 5 one bedroom apartments left and limited floors available on the front overlooking the CBD skyline and out to the Coral Sea.

WCG full year report as at December 31 2017:


That’s some flurry. There have been reports of construction tenders with construction to commence soon to qualify for council discounts on headworks charges. The most recent numbers above are from the full year report lodged with Singapore Stock Exchange last week with the only commentary on Nova progress:

In the next twelve months, the Group will continue with the sale of Nova City project and intends to launch Albert Street project in Brisbane, Australia, subject to market conditions in Brisbane then.

While there is commentary on construction progress of the Melbourne properties there is no mention of construction commencement at Nova which seems remiss given marketing and media reports. Nova has yet to appear in the ABS building approvals with most recent data to December.


Gaming January

The metered Queensland pokie win (player loss) in January was up 4.75% on the previous year. However, while approved machine numbers increased, operational numbers declined so win (loss) per machine was up 6.0%. The divide between clubs and hotels continues:

Gaming January 1

While growth in Townsville was in line with the state at 4.8% Cairns excelled with 11% growth across council area venues in January and 10.7% for the broader Cairns SA4.

Gaming January 2

The only detailed SA2 data is for Cairns City as OLGR don’t publish numbers where there are limited venues. Somewhat lame IMHO. Growth here is well into double digits in recent months.

Gaming January 3

The divergence there from December 2016 follows closure of the Courthouse Hotel with 35 machines. These are current Cairns City SA2 pokie sites:

Gaming sites by Statistical Area 2 (CAIRNS CITY)
Site Name Approved EGMs
Total sites: 9 357

The January numbers report 267 operational machines in Cairns City SA2 compared to 357 approved. OLGR numbers are ex-casino with Reef licenced for about 500 machines.

Experience Results 1H2018

With reporting season in full swing the highly acquisitive Experience Co has also reported results this week. The interest here is in the stakes acquired in recent times in prominent Cairns based tourism businesses. Commentary from Experience:

Raging Thunder  • 6-month contribution to 1H18 results • Financials in line with management expectations • PAX numbers up 5.7% YOY • Raging Thunder Marine now being managed by Reef Magic Cruises, with Reef Magic engineering department now responsible for maintenance of Raging Thunder marine assets

Reef Magic Cruises  • 6-month contribution to 1H18 results • Financials in line with management expectations • PAX numbers in marine as a whole increased by 1% YOY • Reef Magic now operates out of Experience Co Headquarters in Cairns, having moved out of previous lease arrangements

Great Barrier Reef Helicopters  • 2-month contribution to 1H18 results • Financials in line with management expectations • PAX numbers increased 9.8% YOY

Big Cat Green Island Cruises • 18 day contribution to 1H18 results

Tropical Journeys  • 12 day contribution to 1H18 results

Previous Posts: An eye on Experience ; Experience on Watch



Mantra Results 1H2018

Mantra Group results for 1H2018 released today. Overall the group result was rather flat to be kind but commentary is usually of interest because of the significant hotel resort accommodation presence in TNQ.

Mantra.pngRevPAR = revenue per available room

Most interest in Mantra though is on progress of the takeover by Accor which seems to have lagged a month or two behind the initially indicated schedule. Mantra have indicated the arrangement is on track for completion within FY2018. This remains subject to FIRB and ACCC approval with the following commentary from Mantra.

AccorHotels has been actively engaging with the ACCC, including responding to information requests, and believes the approval process remains on track. AccorHotels remains confident of obtaining approval.

As previously posted the combined group would have a very strong presence in TNQ and particularly in locations such as Palm Cove with five of the prime Williams Esplanade properties: Corporate action in accommodation

The secular decline of Mt Isa

There is a good post over at Queensland Economy Watch on regional airfares: Why is it so? Regional Qld airfares 2-3 times higher than in the city – guest post by Craig Wilson

Figure 2: Index of domestic passengers, 1985-86 to 2016-17

Following positive commentary from Cairns Airport on regional routes I have also recently looked at the same BITRE data set indexed here:

Secular decline of Mt Isa

Hmm. I could also turn this into a post on the dangers of locking an index to a starting point on a linear scale.  I could also note that around 10% of airport traffic into the remote North West mining province of Queensland is now recorded through Cloncurry combined with Mt Isa up from zero for a few years following the index benchmark date.