WTF happened to BNE – CNS?

I had looked before at the numbers for top flight routes and intended to return for a closer look. BITRE data is a collection of monstrously large and cumbersome excel files which can be a deterrent but was finally motivated by comments elsewhere on “hot” tourism which would seem to conflict with soft numbers at Cairns Airport.

Top route data at BITRE includes city pairs BNE-CNS, CNS-SYD and CNS-MEL. The three major capitals contribute an overwhelming majority of domestic airline passenger traffic to Cairns. The largest route is BNE-CNS which has shown a disturbing trend over the past year or so.


The moving annual totals data from BITRE indicates seats BNE-CNS are down 7.4% and passenger numbers down 3.7% year to November 2018. Annual seat numbers on the route peaked back in November 2017. Maybe I have been asleep but can’t recall any previous commentary at all on this in Cairns?

Growth via SYD and MEL is softer than previous levels but remains positive at 0.9% and 1.6% respectively for passengers. Which would seem to suggest that the negative annual numbers we have seen start to come through at Cairns Airport can be mostly attributed to Brisbane. We haven’t had any comment with the monthly numbers from the Airport for a while now.

Qantas have recently announced an additional 11 return flights on the route from March 31: Qantas boosts flights for Queensland travellers. However it isn’t clear how much of that will be additional capacity rather than return of seats lost on the route since 2017?

Load factor on the route has risen to an historical 87.5% high for the series in line with rising airfares and Alan Joyce’s bonus. Someone still isn’t happy though: Qantas says productivity commission sux


Note: BITRE data is revenue passengers on scheduled flights a slightly different basis to numbers reported by the Airport however trends are generally consistent. The monthly Airport numbers posted here and by HTW are also ex transits.


2 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Interesting data. That’s quite a fall for BNE-CNS. I wonder how heavily it’s influenced by Chinese media and social media regarding what’s hot right now. I know FNQ and esp. Green Island if I recall was popular among the Chinese a few years ago. Maybe they’ve moved on to somewhere else. Definitely something for TEQ to consider. Thanks for the post. I’ll try to refer back to it in a future post of mine.


  2. Thanks Gene. Maybe worth a follow up query to the airport. They did comment at the beginning of 2018 that all airlines on the route had made changes to planes and schedules but nothing that significant appears in a 6 month schedule outlook provided at the time. BNE route should have a higher proportion of locals, business and government but can’t think of any reason why there should be any significant change in demand from that group. Positive is the load factor where the annual moving average is consequently now higher than any other BNE route I can find in the handy 11,057 row spreadsheet from BITRE. Sydney and Melbourne load factors are also above the national average.


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