Major events boost Brisbane Airport passenger numbers in 2017

Brisbane’s reputation for hosting major events has played a big role in attracting international visitors to the city and state with new flights, airlines and more global destinations also contributing to a nearly 7 per cent year on year growth in international passengers through Brisbane Airport (BNE) in 2017.

International passenger numbers grew by 372,300 to more than 5.8 million travellers, resulting in the strongest growth in international passenger numbers in a decade.

Domestic passenger volumes also increased modestly by 0.8 per cent to more than 17.4 million, or 142,800 more travellers than 2016, with figures impacted by Cyclone Debbie.

In total, BNE’s passenger numbers – domestic and international – grew by 2.3 per cent to more than 23.2 million for the calendar year.

The attraction of major events, from The Battle of Brisbane to the State of Origin, festivals and concerts in Brisbane, not only boosted the city’s international profile, it brought more international visitors to the city than ever before.

Julieanne Alroe, Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) CEO and Managing Director, said the world is taking note of Brisbane as a destination in its own right, as well as being a city for world class major events and gateway to Queensland and Australia.

“More international passengers are choosing Brisbane and Queensland as their first port of call in Australia and, with the additional airlines, flights and destinations we added to our network in 2017, it’s making it easier for them to come direct from all corners of the globe to experience Brisbane and all it has to offer.

“It’s not just our efforts as an airport to increase connectivity that has achieved this result, it is the combined efforts of our local and state governments, the airlines and other business partners banding together for Brisbane and Queensland that has really made the impact.

“This momentum and energy can only take us to new heights in 2018 and we look forward to playing our part in the growth and success of our city and state,” Ms Alroe said.

Highlights for 2017 include:

  • Cathay Pacific operating new A350 aircraft on its daily direct flights between Hong Kong and BNE and de-tagging its four times weekly Hong Kong service via Cairns for the Northern Winter 17 season.
  • Malindo Air launching daily BNE - Kuala Lumpur services.
  • Singapore Airlines increasing BNE-Singapore frequency from 24 weekly to four daily return services and operating three of the four daily services with its new A350 aircrafts.
  • Hainan Airlines launching direct twice weekly BNE-Shenzhen services.
  • Air China launching four times weekly direct services between BNE and Beijing.
  • China Airlines increasing Taipei – BNE – Auckland services from five per week to daily.
  • Emirates increasing its Dubai – BNE frequency from two to three daily services.
  • Jetgo launching BNE- Wollongong and BNE-Wagga Wagga services.
  • Fly Corporate commencing direct BNE-Inverell, BNE-Orange and BNE-Biloela services.

International Review

BNE achieved nearly 7 per cent year on year growth in international passengers, boosting traveller numbers by 372,300 to more than 5.8 million travellers in 2017.

BNE started 2017 with 23 airlines operating internationally and finished with 26 with Malindo Air’s Kuala Lumpur-Denpasar-BNE service launch in April 2017, Hainan Airlines’ Shenzhen-BNE service launch in September 2017 and Air China’s Beijing-BNE service launch in December 2017.

BNE was directly connected with 28 international destinations at the start of 2017, and 31 at the end of the year, with Kuala Lumpur, Shenzhen and Beijing the additions.

The busiest day of the year at the International Terminal was on 23 December with a record 21,501 arrivals and departures in a 24 hour period.

China including Hong Kong (+11 per cent or +42,800 more passengers) was joined by Taiwan (+31.7 per cent or +31,200 more passengers) and Canada (+31.9 per cent +20,900 more passengers), as the top three international growth markets.

Domestic Review

Domestic passenger figures grew by 0.8 per cent to over 17.2 million, or 142,800 more travellers than 2016.

In 2017, nine domestic airlines remained at BNE with Fly Corporate completing a full year of RPT operations in the Common User Terminal and launching three new routes at BNE (Biloela and Orange in February, Inverell in September).

During the course of the calendar year, the number of destinations on offer increased from 48 to 52, with the addition of Orange (Feb 17) and Inverell (Sep 17) by Fly Corporate, and the addition of Wagga Wagga (Feb 17) and Wollongong (Oct 17) by Jetgo.

The strongest intrastate passenger growth was on the Cairns city pair, which also ranked third amongst all domestic routes in terms of growth and volume. Cairns services also achieved the highest load factor amongst the top 10 domestic city pairs.

NRL games held in Brisbane were a major contributor to travel to/from Townsville.

Capacity to/from intrastate ports was impacted by the effects of Cyclone Debbie as well as further declines in FIFO (fly-in fly-out) demand.

September school holidays were again the catalyst for travel with 62,530 passengers travelling on 29 September, making it the busiest day of the year at the Domestic Terminal.

Brisbane Airport Traffic performance – 2017 calendar year*




Year-on-year growth

International arrivals and departures




Transits, transfers (outbound)








Total international passengers




Domestic arrivals and departures




Total passengers




* The information contained in this document is for information purposes only. Brisbane Airport Corporation Pty Ltd (BAC) provides no warranty as to the content or accuracy of the information provided or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided. BAC does not accept liability for any errors or omissions in the contents of this document or for any loss of profit or other damages resulting from the use of this information.

BAC/BNE’s other notable achievements for 2017 include:

  • ‘Top rated Australian airport for quality of service’ for 13 consecutive years by the ACCC.
  • Ranked 4th in ‘Best Airports in the World (servicing 20-30 million passengers)’, and 16th in the ‘World’s Top 100 Airports’ list, up from 17/100 in 2016.
  • Taking out three award categories including ‘Customer Experience’ – for BNE's Customer Experience Program, ‘Infrastructure Development’ – for the runway overlay project and ‘Technology (Major Airport)’ – for the innovative TrackerAIRSIDE program at the National Australian Airports Association Awards.
  • BNE’s Main Runway Overlay Project winning ‘Queensland Construction/Engineering Project of the Year’ at the Annual Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM) Awards.
  • Winning ‘Best Airport (Oceania region)’ at the 3rd Future Travel Experience Asia Awards.
  • Brisbane Airport awarded the ‘HSBC Award for Doing Business in Asia’ at the Lord Mayor's Business Awards.
  • Being voted ‘Best Airport in Australia/Pacific Region’ together with ‘Best Airport Staff Service in Australia/Pacific Region’ by air travellers in 2017 Skytrax World Airport Awards.
  • Brisbane Airport’s International Terminal bathrooms named ‘Australia’s Best Bathroom Facility’ by Total Facilities, Australia’s largest facilities management exhibition.
  • Brisbane Airport named in International Airport Review’s Top 20 World Airports compilation for 2017.
  • Winning the ‘Construction and Design Award’ for the Runway Overlay Project at the International Airport Review Awards.

In 2018, BNE looks forward to:

  • Strong international passenger growth driven by new carriers and routes, including the new Qantas B789 BNE base.
  • Major events in the Brisbane catchment area which are expected to boost international passenger traffic: Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April 2018, Infinitus business event in May 2018, Qantas Wallabies v Ireland Rugby Game 1 in June 2018.
  • Co-hosting Routes Asia bringing more than1000 airline, airport and tourism delegates from 100 countries to Brisbane in April.
  • The opening of the $73 million International Terminal Northern Concourse development, adding an extra 11,000 square metres of space, more boarding and dwell zones, plus four new aerobridges and four new walk out gates to the new apron.

“2018 will be a significant year for Brisbane Airport as we hit the halfway point in our extensive $3.8 billion infrastructure program,” Ms Alroe said.

“As well as continued terminal redevelopment and passenger services upgrades, we’ll start seeing activity on the big sandpit that currently lays on Brisbane’s new runway site,” she added.

Brisbane’s new runway is on track to open in 2020.