Sunday, July 27, 2014

Airport passenger numbers stay grounded in June

Cairns Airport monthly traffic can be sourced either from the airport website or the ASX release by stakeholder Auckland Airport (AIA). As can be seen these don't necessarily provide exactly the same information:

My presumption has been that the AIA numbers (top) strip out the domestic passengers through the international terminal rather than lump them in with T1 transits as the airport does, but may not also strip out domestic transits. AIA issued a subsequent correction on the April numbers which hadn't seemed to correlate on any basis. Previous attempts to reconcile some historical numbers from the airport have defied my limited skill-set and patience.
Regardless of the precise numbers there was a surprise decline for domestic traffic in June from the previous year which the airport attributed to a later school holiday:    
T1 (International) had a 7% increase of arriving and departing passengers on jet flights which operated in both June 2013 and June 2014.These routes are Auckland, Guam, Hong Kong, Osaka and Tokyo. T2 (Domestic) numbers were reduced by the later start of the mid-year school holidays compared to 2013.
A quick look and the later school holiday start really only applies to Queensland and not interstate while the period for all still straddles the month end. So will have to wait and see how strong the rebound is in July which is always the strongest month of the year anyway. The EAI (Esplanade Activity Index) has appeared quite buoyant so far this month from casual people watching observation.

June also coincides with weaker post-budget consumer sentiment which have included warnings of weakness from such as Flight Centre and the airlines. The start to winter down south was also comparatively balmy although has since turned a tad more chilly.

Interesting commentary also there to try and make something positive from the weaker international traffic although including the comparative data is a good move. This was the June commentary from AIA: 
In the past year passenger volumes at North Queensland Airports have been impacted by a number of factors including service reductions, schedule changes, cyclones and the downturn in the mining industry (impacting predominantly Mackay). However, total passenger numbers at Cairns have grown 2.6% for the 12 months ended 30 June 2014 on the back of 4.6% domestic passenger growth. This domestic growth has developed due to more international passengers visiting Cairns on domestic flights from within Australia, following reductions in direct international services to Cairns.
June is the first Y-o-Y negative growth month since last November which was itself coming off the back of high traffic for the previous years eclipse. This is my graph of monthly domestic growth with a 12 month moving average based on domestic terminal numbers (ex transits) from the airport:

Source: Cairns Airport
Note: I think I made a comment last year that September school holidays in Queensland had shifted to align with NSW and Victoria rather than the previous weeks overlap. The mid year break has now also shifted back a week to align the three rather than a weeks overlap. Is this a positive or negative for tourism? I would have thought negative?

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