Dark February at Airport

Travelling back through Brisbane Airport yesterday a quick check on my budget Acer Spin road warrior discovered the Cairns Airport statistics for February. However by the time I arrived home the Airport web site seemed to be undergoing an update with links moved and all I could find on the performance page was the message “Sorry, there are currently no listings.” Luckily the PDF was still open on the road warrior:

Airport Feb 1
  1. Maybe i’m too pedantic but how does an organisation like Cairns Airport manage to post online a document with such obvious errors in some of the growth percentages without being picked up by somebody? Maybe it will be corrected when reposted?
  2. The numbers and trend are awful. You have to go back to the dark days following the GFC crunch to find a negative domestic month of this size. The -7.9% is correct for the month and now -1.65% annual and falling.
Airport Feb 2

However those early month seasonal factors also come into play as well as recent climatic events. As the largest airport and international gateway Sydney Airport’s ASX listing provides the best timely benchmark. Sydney also posted February numbers this week and the monthly commentary is worthwhile posting on seasonal and capacity factors:

The number of International passengers moving through Sydney Airport in February was slightly ahead of the prior corresponding period (pcp) growing by 0.4%. Domestic passenger numbers were down 2.7% on the pcp.

International passenger numbers grew by 0.4%, which is in line with seat growth through the period. As indicated last month, the shift in the Lunar New Year buoyed January while impacting the February comparison.

International passenger growth year to date is 2.9%, representing close to 83,000 additional travellers through the airport. Last year the Lunar New Year shoulder extended into March, so the shift forward in 2019 will impact the March numbers.

Reduced domestic seat capacity (-1.9%) combined with lower load factors (-0.7%) has impacted the February domestic passenger numbers compared to the pcp. In addition, cancellation rates for the month continue to be higher than usual.

Domestic at Sydney was flat in January so it is noted that they have also experienced a slightly slower negative growth start to the year with international growth also below annual growth in the opening months.

Local media, tourism and lobby groups seem to have finally discovered the slow tourism narrative with the Cairns Post running a campaign on it for a week and we were even feted with a visit from Kate Jones. A Sunday jaunt to Port Douglas (for some Pickled in Port drunken gingers) and a weekday evening wander around the city this month both indicated a quiet March also with some businesses taking the opportunity for a break.

April will be a key month to watch with additional Qantas capacity to Cairns scheduled from March 31. Easter also moves later into April with Good Friday last year on March 30. Hanrahan says if we can’t get a positive growth month in April with a tailwind from those factors then we’ll all be rooned before the year is out.



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