Travel Corridor Sees Auckland Airport Passenger Numbers Up 747%

Passenger traffic through Auckland International Airport is picking up on the back of a two-way travel corridor between…

Travel Corridor Sees Auckland Airport Passenger Numbers Up 747%

Passenger traffic through Auckland International Airport is picking up on the back of a two-way travel corridor between New Zealand and its key Australian market. New Zealand’s biggest airport has just reported passenger traffic across May is up 747% compared to May 2020.

Passenger numbers at AKL are up 747% compared to May 2020. Photo: Getty Images

721,360 passenger movements through AKL in May

In May, Auckland Airport (AKL) saw 721,360 passengers move through its terminal. That is a small improvement on the April figure of 714,324 and a big increase on the May 2020 figure of 85,157 passenger movements.

Driving the uptick in passenger numbers in May was the opening of the travel corridor between New Zealand and Australia in mid-April. The May results provide the first full month of figures after the corridor opened. Auckland Airport handled 134,982 international passengers in May compared to 66,229 international passengers in April.

The travel corridor allows passengers who have been in New Zealand or Australia for the past fortnight to freely move between the two countries and avoid quarantine.

Australia’s biggest airport, Sydney (SYD), is yet to release its passenger traffic figures for May. However, its international passenger numbers in April were up 27.1% on the previous April. The travel corridor came into effect on April 18, with the uptick in passengers over the following 12 days boosting the April monthly total.

auckland-airport-may-passenger-numbers-getty
The travel corridor between New Zealand & Australia boosted passenger traffic at AKL. Photo: Getty Images

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Qantas and Air New Zealand return to trans-Tasman flying

When the travel corridor was announced, the two big local airlines, Qantas and Air New Zealand, flooded the corridor with flights. There was an initial rush of demand, primarily from passengers keen to see family or, in the case of Kiwis stranded in Australia, to go home and skip the previous quarantine requirment.

Air New Zealand told New Zealanders to dust off their passports. The airline laid on 30 flights across the Tasman on the first day of the travel corridor and was eyeing 300 flights a week by the July holidays.

Qantas put on a similar number of flights on the first day and was keen to operate around 200 flights a week between Australia and New Zealand.

“New Zealand was Australia’s second-biggest source of international visitors before the pandemic,” said Qantas CEO Alan Joyce in April. “Reopening these flights across the Tasman is a very important milestone in the recovery from the pandemic for Australia and New Zealand but also aviation and tourism.”

After the initial flurry of enthusiasm from passengers, Qantas and Air New Zealand were soon forced to reduce capacity as demand waned. Around 150 weekly trans-Tasman flights that had been quickly timetabled into schedules were quietly timetabled out. Airlines switched out widebody planes for smaller single-aisle aircraft. Frequencies were trimmed. Now, there are around a dozen return flights a day to Australia out of Auckland Airport.

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Both Qantas & Air New Zealand have reduced the trans-Tasman schedules as demand fails to met expectations. Photo: Getty Images

The trans-Tasman travel corridor winner is ….

Meanwhile, there has been one surprise winner in the travel corridor, and it is not Auckland Airport. Much smaller sister airport, Queenstown (ZQN), is part-owned by the owners of Auckland Airport. Queenstown Airport is handling around 10 return flights a day to Australia as the ski season gets underway. Qantas will run between 60 and 70 flights a week into Queenstown over this southern winter, triple the pre-travel downturn numbers.

“The airlines are putting in really good capacity, and early bolters are getting over to ski,” says Tourism New Zealand’s Andrew Waddel.

A couple of hours to the north, Auckland Airport will hope a few of Queentown’s visitors decide a side trip to Auckland is worthwhile.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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There Is Interest For The Airbus A220 In China

During its media briefing call yesterday, Airbus talked about the future of the Airbus A220 in China. While…

There Is Interest For The Airbus A220 In China

During its media briefing call yesterday, Airbus talked about the future of the Airbus A220 in China. While the aircraft currently has no customers in the region, Airbus is confident that there is a clear market for the short-haul jet. Let’s find out more about the A220 interest in China.

The A220 has found strong success in North America and Europe but is still catching on in the rest of the world, including China. Photo: Airbus

Coming up

The Airbus A220 family has been quite successful in recent years, bringing over 600 orders and over 150 deliveries. However, most of this success has been restricted to the US, Canada, and European markets, which account for over 60% of orders (including even lessors). Indeed, the only East Asian operator of the jets is Korean Air, which flies 10 A220-300s.

This absence extends to China, the world’s second-largest and rapidly growing aviation market. Currently, China’s domestic market is dominated by narrowbodies like the 737 and A320, with fewer regional jets in action. However, Airbus sees a market for the A220 in the country, with CCO Christian Scherer saying,

“Well there has been expressions of interest for the A220 in China and by the way, a good portion of the fuselage was built in China. So yes there is interest for the A220 in China, particularly in the regions of China that are outside of the mainstream routes.”

Airbus A220-300
China has a diverse aviation market that includes many regional and low-density routes across the country. Photo: Airbus

Considering China plays a substantial role in the manufacturing of the A220 could be another boost for carriers. However, the assembly of the aircraft remains limited to Airbus’ Mirabel facility in Canada and the new line in Mobile, Alabama, in the US.

Potential customers

While most will only be familiar with China’s big three and a handful of other carriers, the country is home to nearly three dozen airlines. This means Airbus has a wide potential market base to choose from, especially for airlines that aren’t centered around the busiest hubs of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, and others.

However, there could be a potential hurdle to the A220: the COMAC ARJ21. This Chinese-made regional jet carries anywhere from 90 to 105 passengers in a one-class layout, close to the A220-100’s offering. While its range is substantially lower at 1,200-2,000nm (compared to 3,450nm for the A220), the planes can serve similar routes.

COMAC ARJ21
The ARJ21 family is fairly close to the A220 in specifications and could prove to be a challenge. Photo: Getty Images

However, for airlines looking to fly longer or thinner (lower demand) routes, the A220 is the superior choice. Considering China’s vast landscape and hundreds of smaller cities, there could be a major market for the efficient aircraft. Moreover, with the domestic market in China bouncing back to pre-pandemic levels, new aircraft orders could be on the horizon.

Production going up

As Airbus sees an aviation recovery come together, the company is ramping up production too. The manufacturer will make six A220s per month in 2022 and 45 A320s monthly by the end of the year. If the A220 sees more orders, this figure could jump to 14 monthly planes by the middle of the 2020s. For now, keep an eye out for new customers for the A220 family.

What do you think about the future of the A220 in China? Let us know in the comments!

Source : Simple Flying More   

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