It was indeed a good month and will return to seasonal factors. However, it is reported that international traffic continues to struggle despite Chinese New Year falling in January this year: "there was marginal growth of 0.7 per cent in the international terminal to 48,500".
The monthly passenger numbers from the airport comprise a two page report. The first page is a rounded summary and while the second provides detailed monthly numbers for the current year. These numbers don't match for January at T1 (international). Page one says 48,500, while page two gives the equivalent number as a far more impressive
I wonder if the difference may be Chinese New Year charter flights? I have had some issues for a while with correlating some of the airport data but won't divert into details and will get around to resolving one day.
The January traffic follows on, and is seasonally in line with, the good numbers and growth in December. There have been generally good anecdotal summer reports from all tourist regions. The seasonal effect of the lunar new year alternating between months will also be a factor in comparing the monthly growth stats.
Source: Cairns Airport
January domestic recorded the highest Y-o-Y monthly growth (13.4%) since February 2013 (14.4%). Last year CNY* was the 10th February. That growth number then followed on the previous year when the CNY* period fell earlier on January 23. This year it was January 31 so could be expected to fall more evenly between the months.
This is where a seasonal adjustment methodology to apportion between months as adopted by ABS would be essential for any meaningful comparison.
*CNY - Chinese New Year not a Chinese Yuan Renminbi
Update: Thank you to the Airport for a quick response to query. Yes, there was a double counting error related to domestic passengers at T1 which has now been corrected. Growth as low as 0.7% at the international seems quite weak given that the previous January didn't include CNY and direct flights from Shanghai recommenced at the beginning of the month?