06/08/2008 - 22:00

Air passenger numbers up

06/08/2008 - 22:00

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Domestic air travel to and from Western Australia has increased substantially during the past year, with flights from Kalgoorlie and Brisbane to Perth among the fastest growing routes in the country.

Domestic air travel to and from Western Australia has increased substantially during the past year, with flights from Kalgoorlie and Brisbane to Perth among the fastest growing routes in the country.

Reinforcing the strength of the state's air travel market on the back of the mining boom, passenger numbers on the Brisbane-Perth route increased 15.8 per cent in 2007 to 602,900 passengers, making it the fourth fastest growing domestic route in the country.

Kalgoorlie-Perth was the fifth fastest growing domestic route in the country, with passenger numbers up 15.2 per cent to 227,000 passengers for the year.

This was despite a 1.7 per cent reduction in the number of seats servicing that route that year.

Other strong performers were Broome-Perth, up 13.4 per cent, Adelaide-Perth, up 10.9 per cent, Melbourne-Perth, up 10.4 per cent, and Perth-Sydney, up 8.5 per cent.

According to the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics, the domestic airline industry is operating at record levels, despite industry woes associated with rising operating costs and fuels prices.

More than 47 million passengers flew on Australian domestic airlines in 2007, an increase of 6.6 per cent on the previous year.

Airlines continued to introduce additional seats through the year, with the number of available seats rising 4.2 per cent across all routes.

Melbourne-Sydney was Australia's busiest route, with 6.8 million passengers in 2007.

Meanwhile, WA-based Skywest Airlines has announced it will discontinue its Melbourne-Kalgoorlie service in November this year, almost one year after flights began.

Skywest chief executive Paul Daff said significant increases in fuel and other operating costs, and deteriorating economic conditions in Australia, led to the decision.

Skywest has focused on growing its scheduled charter services for the mining and resources sector, growing that sector by almost 92 per cent since June 2007 to reach 165 in June 2008.

In recent months, the airline signed two new charter service contracts with miners Rio Tinto Ltd and Fortescue Metals Group Ltd.

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