Gold Coast Airport is surging toward pre-COVID passenger numbers, adding more international services to Australia’s popular tourist destination.
Sitting on the doorstep of one of Australia’s most popular tourist destinations, Gold Coast Airport has had its busiest summer in three years. The peak travel season started in December when the airport handled its highest number of international passengers since 2019.
Honing in fast on pre-COVID numbers
Photo: Gold Coast Airport
Since the beginning of December, Gold Coast Airport (OOL) has handled almost one million passengers, with more than 20,000 people on a single day during the height of the season. The strong finish to 2022 boosted the year’s passenger numbers to 5.7 million, 88% of the 6.51 million it handled in 2019. The airport is fast approaching COVID-recovery, bearing in mind that border restrictions were only removed in June, severely impacting the first half of 2022 numbers.
Gold Coast Airport is owned and operated by Queensland Airports Limited (QAL), which also has airports in Queensland at Townsville, Mount Isa and Longreach, the home of the Qantas Founders Museum. QAL CEO Amelia Evans said yesterday that 2022 marked a significant year for Gold Coast Airport.
“Last year brought about its own new challenges, as borders reopened and travel quickly ramped back up, our team worked hard and fast to rebuild interstate and overseas connections.
“It was also the year we opened our brand-new international terminal after more than three years of construction and over a decade in the planning. The addition of that new terminal over the summer holidays has been invaluable in facilitating smooth passenger flow in [the] terminal during peak periods.”
Adding more international flights
The new terminal officially opened in November when it welcomed Singaporean low-cost carrier Scoot flight TR6 from Singapore, followed by flights from New Zealand and Japan later in the day. Currently, Scoot, Jetstar and Air New Zealand are operating international services. The new terminal will soon add more passengers as Air New Zealand, Virgin Australia and AirAsia X add or resume services to the Gold Coast.
Last week the airport announced that Air New Zealand would be adding two additional flights to its Auckland (AKL) – Gold Coast route. Air New Zealand operates the service daily and will go nine times a week between March and October.
Currently, the service is operating at or near capacity, with New Zealand the number one market for visitors to the Gold Coast. Other new international services soon to resume or launch are the return of AirAsia X from Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur and Virgin Australia flights to Bali in Indonesia.
Kuala Lumpur to the Gold Coast was the first route operated by AirAsia X when it commenced in 2007. The route was suspended during the pandemic, but after a gap of nearly two and a half years, it will return on February 16th, operating flights three times a week. AirAsia X CEO Benyamin Ismail said:
“Fifteen years ago, the Gold Coast was the catalyst for the birth of AirAsia X and our Australia expansion, which quickly became one of our most popular key markets. Through Kuala Lumpur, AirAsia X will connect visitors from more than 130 destinations across Asia, including Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, India, South Korea and many more.”
While Australia’s summer holidays are coming to an end, the airport said that steady passenger numbers are expected to continue for the rest of January, particularly with the upcoming Australia Day holiday and Lunar New Year celebrations. Evans added:
“The Chinese visitor market is extremely important for us, in 2019 the Gold Coast was the third most popular Australian city for Chinese visitors.”
The Gold Coast is 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Brisbane, which will host the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The plan is that sports will be held at various venues, six of which are planned for the Gold Coast. It is yet another reason why the airport is confident of its future and the value of the new international terminal.
Have you traveled through Gold Coast Airport recently? Let us know about your experience in the comments.