November 16, 2022 | By Bronwen Largier

As airlines across the world rebuild their route maps and capacities following the COVID travel pause, Australasian cities are reaping the benefits. And all the while the air travel industry is taking strides to go greener as eliminating the drivers of climate change becomes more pressing.

Auckland becomes Australasian city most connected into North America as Vancouver flights resume

With Air Canada resuming flights between New Zealand’s largest city and the west coast Canadian city of Vancouver on Saturday, after a near two-year pause, the Kiwi government believes Auckland now boasts the greatest number of air connections to North America of any city in Australasia.

“This addition to North American airline capacity is another welcome step in our tourism recovery. We are projecting 180,000 – 200,000 arrivals during the 2022-2023 summer season, which will contribute an estimated $810 to $890 million into our economy,” said New Zealand’s tourism minister Stuart Nash.

“Research tells us that 5.6 million Canadians are actively considering a trip to NZ in the next three years.”

Auckland is now connected to eight destinations in North America, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Dallas, Chicago, New York and Honolulu. Starting in September, Air New Zealand is flying one of the world longest routes, connecting Auckland directly to New York.

Adelaide to be back above 90 per cent of pre-COVID international airline capacity by January

With more flights added by Qatar Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Virgin Airlines, international flight capacity into the South Australian capital is expected to jump from 65 per cent now to over 90 per cent by January 2023.

Malaysia Airlines will boost its capacity into Adelaide later this month from three flights a week to five, Virgin Australia will start an Adelaide to Bali route in December, Singapore Airlines will increase from daily flights to ten times per week from early January in meet travel demand for the Santos Tour Down Under, while Qatar Airways will start flying daily to Adelaide from Doha in late January, up from five flights a week currently.

Domestic air capacity is already at 105 per cent, with Virgin Australia set to further boost domestic capacity between South Australia and Tasmania in December, with the resumption of three weekly flights each between Adelaide and Hobart and Adelaide and Launceston.

“With Qatar soon flying daily, and both Singapore Airlines and Malaysia Airlines ramping up their schedules, it means even greater access to markets across Europe, New Zealand and Asia – including markets like the UK and Singapore worth $72 million and $97 million respectively to our stat,” said South Australia’s tourism minister Zoe Bettison.

“Greater connectivity is crucial as we work to reclaim our state’s $1.2 billion international market, so it is tremendous to have such strong growth in international airline seats into Adelaide.”

Fittingly, Adelaide Convention Centre is hosting the Australian Airports Association (AAA) National Conference and Industry Expo 2022 this week, with around 750 delegates including airport heads from around the country gathering to discuss opportunities and challenges, including sustainability and technology.

Brisbane Airport to go green

From the runway lights to the terminals, travellators, escalators, shops, IT and the electric vehicles, Brisbane Airport is set to run on 100 per cent renewable energy by 2025, thanks to a just-inked agreement with the state-government owned energy-generator Stanwell.

The green agreement is the first of its kind for the energy producer and makes Brisbane Airport the first Australian airport to commit to being completely renewable by 2025.

The short timeframe puts Brisbane Airport Corporation a quarter of a century ahead of its 2050 target.

“We welcome this deal with Stanwell and are proud to be customer number one in its renewable energy pipeline,” said Brisbane Airport chief executive Gert-Jan de Graaff.

“This clean energy deal delivers on Brisbane Airport Corporation’s commitment to be a sustainable world leading airport city.

“Queenslanders can travel through our terminals knowing their journey begins and ends at one of the world’s most sustainable airports once this green energy begins flowing from regional Queensland.”

Qantas launches new corporate program to reduce carbon emissions through sustainable aviation fuel

Qantas has launched its Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) Coalition which invites major corporates to contribute to the cost of SAF when flying with the airline to reduce carbon emissions generated through air travel rather than offsetting them after the fact.

The airline has already signed up Australia Post, Boston Consulting Group, Macquarie Group, KPMG Australia and Woodside Energy as founding partners of the program.

Through the initiative, corporations pay a premium to reduce emissions generated through air travel by contributing to the incremental cost of sustainable aviation fuel, the use of which generates up to 80 per cent fewer carbon emissions than traditional jet fuel over the full fuel lifecycle.

According to the airline, the program is also a key demonstrator of the demand for sustainable aviation fuel, which cannot yet be produced in Australia, due to the absence of a local industry.

“The demand for SAF has never been higher but supply is lagging well behind, particularly without a local industry in Australia, and that’s keeping prices several times more expensive than traditional jet kerosene,” said Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce

“The more leading corporates that join our program/coalition the more feasible a local industry becomes and the more cost effective the fuel becomes.

“Air travel is a crucial part of doing business for many companies. Companies need to travel to meet customers, suppliers and partners, but they also want to reduce their impact on the environment. SAF is a great way to do that,” said Joyce.

Gold Coast Airport opens new international terminal

A $260 million three-level 30,000m2 expansion in the form of a new international terminal has opened this week at Gold Coast Airport, as the recovery of air travel continues for the major regional destination.

“This project will ensure Gold Coast Airport is positioned as the preferred domestic and international gateway to the spectacular destinations of the Gold Coast and northern NSW,” said Amelia Evans, CEO of Queensland Airports Limited, which owns and operates Gold Coast Airport, alongside three other regional Queensland airports.

“Passenger numbers at Gold Coast Airport continue to rebuild with strength, with more than half a million passengers moved through the terminal during the month of October, and aircraft in and out of the Gold Coast at 90 per cent passenger capacity.

“We will continue to focus on driving growth in passenger numbers, working closely with airline, government, and destination partners to secure extra capacity, new carriers and new international flight and domestic connections,” said Evans.

Gold Coast Airport sits right on the border of Queensland and New South Wales and is the second largest airport for both states.

The expansion doubles the terminal footprint for the airport and builds capacity to have 19 aircraft on the ground.

The Gold Coast Airport precinct is currently in the midst of a major transformation, with around half a billion dollars’ worth of works either completed, in progress or in the pipeline.

Upgrades and expansion of the airport has been flagged as important ahead of the expected increased travel demand for the Brisbane Olympics in 2032.