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Sydney Airport’s traffic recovery gathering pace


Sydney Airport closed out 2023 with its strongest monthly passenger traffic since 2019, with a total of 3.58 million passengers passing through the terminals in December 2023.

The total represented a 15.8% increase on passenger traffic in December last year and a 90.6% recovery compared to December 2019.

Sydney Airport’s T1 international terminal saw 1.5 million passengers pass through in December, a 29.4% increase on the same month last year and a 93.3% recovery rate on December 2019.

Domestic and regional passenger traffic was up 7.6% on the same month last year, with 2.08 million passengers coming through the T2 and T3 domestic terminals.

© Kurt Ams.

The strong passenger volumes for December capped off a year where more than 38 million passengers passed through the airport’s terminals, just 13% shy of the annual record of 44.4 million passenger set in 2019.

December 2023 represented the first month that the reported number of travellers on Australian passports recovered to, and beyond, pre-COVID levels, growing 1.3% compared to December 2019. In December, the number of passengers from South Korea and India were also above 2019 levels.

Strong operational performance

Operationally, the airport also performed strongly over the December school holiday peak period.

Throughout December 100% of domestic passengers and 99.3% of international passengers passed through security in less than 10 minutes.

Traffic also flowed well, with all kerbside drop-offs at the domestic terminals occurring within 10 minutes of vehicles entering the precinct. At the international terminal, there were three instances throughout December when drop-off times briefly rose above 10 minutes.

Passenger recovery ‘draws line under the COVID era’

Sydney Airport CEO Scott Charlton said the milestone results for December reinforced just how big the year has been for the airport’s recovery.

“Australian passenger volumes moving beyond 2019 levels is a fantastic way to close out 2023 and draw a line under the COVID era,” he said.

“December’s performance also demonstrates how far we have come since the start of the year. In January, we were 79% recovered compared to pre-COVID, the border to China was still closed and there was broad a lack of capacity on key overseas routes.

“By the end of the year, international passenger volumes have almost fully recovered, and we have experienced one of the strongest China recoveries of any international airport globally with nine airlines flying 89 return-services weekly to mainland China. In 2023 we also saw extra international capacity translate into strong passenger volumes in the India and South Korea markets.

“Domestically, airline capacity is continuing to impact passenger volumes and there’s still work to do before we see travel habits return to pre-pandemic levels.

“We look forward to growing extra seat capacity and securing new services in 2024 and further cementing our position as Australia’s gateway.”

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