BNE holiday forecast: 3.7 million passengers

J&A_BAC_ReindeerOnTarmac_020 Sophia Eory and Tia Church-Kratzmann
  • A combined total of 3.7 million passengers are projected to travel through the Brisbane domestic and international terminals these summer school holidays (Fri 1 Dec 2023 to Sun 28 Jan 2024) which is up 20% on last year  
  • 1 million passengers to pass through International Terminal (up 46% on last year) 
  • International Terminal to exceed 20,000 daily passengers for the first time since Jan 2020  
  • 2.7 million passengers forecast through Domestic Terminal (12% more than last year) 
  • Biggest terminal entertainment lineup in BNE history to get holidays off to a festive start  

Busy summer holiday travel season to start today  

A total of 3.7 million passengers will travel through Brisbane’s Domestic and International terminals these school holidays which is up 20% on the same period last year, and not far shy of the 4 million in 2019 before the pandemic.  

In the Domestic Terminal, 2.7 million passengers are forecast to fly during the holidays, a rise of 12% on last year, and 96% of pre-pandemic travel.  

In the International Terminal, 1.0 million passengers are projected to travel this holiday season, up 46% on last year, and 88% of pre-pandemic levels.  

Projections show China is forecast to regain its position as a top three contributor of international tourists to Queensland this summer.  

Brisbane will receive 14 flights per week from China over the holiday and Lunar New Year peak following the return of China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines.  

To help prepare, Brisbane Airport this week facilitated a training session for Brisbane Hotels to prepare for the resurgence of this valuable market. 

“It’s vital our hospitality industry is ready for the return of this powerhouse market,” says Gert-Jan de Graaff, CEO of Brisbane Airport.  

The other rapid riser is India, up from 8th before the pandemic, and now coming in at number 4 on the list of source countries.  

“The growth of arrivals from India has been meteoric. This is a rapidly expanding market with a new generation of travelers connecting with friends and family in Queensland.  

Holiday trends for Queenslanders  

"For Queenslanders heading overseas, New Zealand remains the most popular destination simply because we have the biggest number of Kiwis in Australia and many love to connect with family at this time of year. Over the Christmas period there are up to 92 flights per week in each direction, up from 70 last year.  

“This is the first Christmas holidays that Queenslanders have been directly connected to Vietnam, thanks to Vietjet, so it is a trending destination. Capacity to Japan has recently quadrupled through Qantas and Jetstar and is very popular for Christmas. And today United Airlines begins services from Brisbane to Los Angeles, which is expanding capacity to the United States.”  

This growth will see a new post-pandemic record set in the International Terminal these holidays with the daily number of passengers forecast to exceed 20,000 for the first time since January 2020. 

“To think during the darkest days of the pandemic there were days of zero international passengers, and now we are back to 20,000 per day.”  



Total passengers International Terminal 

Saturday 6 January 2024 


Friday 22 December 2023 


Sunday 7 January 2024 


Saturday 23 December 2023 


Friday 5 January 2024 


Travel tips as school holidays begin  

Fridays will be the busiest domestic travel day across the month of December.  

With many Queensland private schools starting holidays at the end of this week, this Friday 1 December is shaping up as one of the busiest days in the Domestic Terminal these holidays as holidaymakers combine with FIFO and business commuters, for a total of around 55,000 passengers.  

“We know Brisbane Airport will be busy across the holiday period. Arriving 90 minutes before a domestic flight will continue to be important for travellers. People should certainly book their car parking in advance as space is in heavy demand.  Taxis and rideshare should also be reserved ahead of time. If you are travelling to the airport on a train, stay across planned track changes via Translink. And don’t forget to check-in online before coming to the airport. 

“For international flights, it is wise to arrive at the terminal 3 hours before take-off.  And be aware of the rules for powders, liquids, aerosols and gels, and your baggage allowance.” 

“Don’t pre-wrap presents that you intend to carry on board an aircraft. As beautiful as they will look, airport security may have to unwrap your gifts to check the contents, ruining your perfect wrapping. Wrap them at your destination.  And leave Christmas bon bons at home.  Christmas crackers or bon bons are generally on the naughty list when it comes to flights. Double check with your airline before flying or just pick some up when you get to your destination.

“If you are wanting to claim your GST back on all your holiday shopping using the Tourist Refund Scheme (TRS), we recommend preparing your claim online in advance of arriving at the airport through the My TRS Claim web app by Australian Border Force.  

Biggest terminal holiday entertainment lineup in BNE history Santa 2023

Across December free entertainment in the terminals will help families get into the festive spirit. 

As well as Christmas activities and entertainment, there will be performances by our arts partners the Brisbane Philharmonic Orchestra, Brisbane Pride Choir, Camerata, Opera Queensland and Queensland Ballet.  

“We love how our arts partners enrich Brisbane’s cultural scene. That’s why it is a delight to bring their performances into the heart of the terminals as a gift to travellers at this time of year.”  

Back by popular demand will also be the therapy dogs as a fun way of reducing preflight stress for the travelling public.   

Guests will see Acrobatic Elves, Rockette Reindeers and Hip Hop Santas in the terminal.  

There will also be a Christmas craft zone for young travellers.  

Domestic Terminal  



Christmas Craft Zone 

3 Locations: Qantas, Central, Virgin  

Monday 4 December – Sunday 24 December 

730am – 12.30pm 

Roaming Santa 

Tuesday 12 December  

Wednesday 13 December 

Monday 18 December 

Wednesday 20 December 

Friday 22 December 

8am to 12pm 

Roving Entertainment 

Thursday 7 December – Juggling Elves 

Tuesday 12 December – Acrobatic Elves 

Friday 15 December – Rockette Reindeers 

Tuesday 19 December – Tapping Elves 

Thursday 21 December – Hip Hop Santas 

8am to 12pm 

Therapy Dogs 

Friday 1 December (Central)  

Wednesday 6 December (Central) 

Wednesday 13 December (Virgin) 

Wednesday 20 December (Qantas) 

10am – 12pm 

3.30pm - 530pm 

1pm – 3pm  

1pm - 3pm 

Brisbane Philharmonic Orchestra   

Domestic Terminal 

Monday December 4 

730am – 1030 am 

(3 x 20 mins)  

Brisbane Pride Choir 

Domestic Terminal 

Saturday 9 December 

10 am – 12pm 

(2 x 30 min) 

Opera Queensland 

Domestic Terminal 

Thursday 14 December 

930am – 1230pm 

(2 x 10 min) 


International Terminal 



Christmas Craft Zone 

Friday 1 December – Sunday 24 December 

630am – 1130am 

Roaming Santa 

Thursday 14 December 

Tuesday 19 December 

Thursday 21 December 

8am - 12pm  

Roving Entertainment 

Monday 11 December – Acrobatic Elves 

Wednesday 13 December – Rockette Reindeers 

Monday 18 December – Tapping Elves 

Wednesday 20 December – Juggling Elves 

Friday 22 December – Hip Hop Santas 


Queensland Ballet 

Friday 15 December 

9am – 12pm 

(3 x 20 minute workshops) 

Destination Queensland 

These school holidays will see an increase in flights on a number of key leisure destinations in Queensland to handle the influx of interstate tourists. The number of services between Brisbane and Proserpine rises from 21 to 30 flights in each direction per week. 

“We know when Brisbane Airport is busy, Queensland is busy, and that will certainly be the case this holiday season as thousands of interstate tourists flock to Australia’s holiday state.”  

Following the busy school holiday period, passengers will see an increase in construction works in February as part of the Future BNE upgrades for the Domestic Terminal.  Future BNE is the next great transformation of Brisbane Airport. 

With more than $5 billion of investment planned over the coming decade — including a third passenger terminal, major refurbishments to existing terminals, the region’s best connected commercial land, and much more – what’s happening at BNE will change the way you travel, create jobs and prepare Brisbane for 2032 and beyond.

Images of Christmas performers and Santa available for download here 

For more information contact Brisbane Airport’s 24/7 media contact 0466 322 485