Challenging Market Slows Passenger Growth At Sydney Airport


Sydney Airport Corporation has released its passenger figures for the first third of 2019, showing a decrease of 0.7% compared to the same period last year.

Sydney Airport
Sydney Airport International Terminal. Photo: Wikimedia

But it is not all bad news, with the airport reporting a 6% increase in revenue.

What are the results?

Sydney Airport is a private corporation listed on the stock exchange and thus must release financial reports. As mentioned above, the revenue of the airport increased by 6%, but they said that the overall market was entering a more challenging period.


Additionally, they have released the following interesting insights:

  • Domestic passengers fell to 1.8%, approx 8.99 million compared to the same period last year.
  • International passengers, however, rose 1.2% to 5.70 million compared to the period last year
  • These new international passengers came from Vietnam (18% increase since the last period) and India (14% since the last year).
  • China also contributed an extra 6% increase, but the airport noted that it was a decrease from the massive Chinese influx seen in recent years.

“It is likely that 2019 will see more subdued growth in passengers across the board – we have seen that in the first four months of this year – but to a certain extent this was to be expected when we have just come off a number of years of extraordinary growth,” said Sydney Airport chief executive Geoff Culbert in the shareholders meeting, reported by Australian Aviation.

What about future domestic travel?

With rumors of a recession on the way in 2020 and stagnant wage growth in Australia, it is likely that domestic travel will continue to fall over the next few years.


“The overall economic outlook is less certain than what we saw a year ago, but the robustness, resilience, and diversity of our business, together with our track record of performance and growth in all economic cycles, makes us optimistic about the year ahead,” noted Culbert.

Sydney Airport went on to blame “fleet issues, industrial relations challenges, and capacity management” for flat domestic figures back in January, according to the Australian Financial Review.

Sydney Airport plans to overhaul its domestic terminals to make the passenger experience more pleasant. They will automate much of the baggage system in terminal two, freeing up more room for retail and relaxation spaces in the departure hall. The Airport Corporation will also be taking ownership of terminal three from Qantas this year (a deal signed back in 2015) and has a new plan to bring the terminal into the modern era.

Sydney Airport
Sydney Airport future upgrades. Photo: Sydney Airport

What about future international travel?

However, poor predictions are not to be found when looking at the future of international travel from Sydney airport. With new opportunities like Project Sunrise (direct flights from Sydney to London), it is possible that 100% of the world’s population will soon be reachable from Sydney. Currently, only 60% of the world can be reached by a direct flight from the airport.

Sydney Airport
Sydney Airport slide presentation highlighting new airline routes with new routes. Photo: Sydney Airport

These new routes will include flights not only to London but New York, Chicago, Cape Town, Manchester and more.

Sydney Airport also put together a ‘master plan’ to ensure that they are best prepared for growing passenger numbers over the next 50 years, up to 65 million per year (In 2018, they saw 44 million passengers).

Whilst Sydney Airport has been hit by the Chinese tourist slowdown, and a noticeable decrease in domestic passengers, they are confident that they are well prepared for the future.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.