Aviation is a strategic priority for Tourism Australia in achieving the industry's Tourism 2020 targets. Australia's international aviation capacity needs to grow by 40-50 per cent to support the Tourism 2020 strategy's goal of growing overnight visitor expenditure to more than A$115 billion annually by the end of the decade.

International aviation capacity to Australia

The last 20 years

During the past 20 years international aviation capacity to Australia has grown from 9.3 million inbound seats in 1995 to 24.6 million seats in 2016, representing an average annual growth rate of 4.9 per cent. Growth has been driven by increased capacity from New Zealand, Southeast Asia (Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia), China (including Hong Kong), the Middle East and the USA. See chart below for trend and change in aviation capacity over the last five years.

Tourism Australia will focus on continuing to strengthen partnerships with more than 20 airlines to grow existing services and new routes. Click here to view the presentation done by Tourism Australia at the CAPA Australia Pacific Aviation Summit 2016 in Brisbane which provides an overview of airline partnerships and aviation development.

Route development

Upcoming new routes*


*New services are based on indicative dates announced by airline and media sources. Details are subject to change.

Recent new routes

Global Aviation

November international passenger demand rose 8.0% compared to November 2015. Total capacity climbed 6.8%, causing load factor to increase 0.9 percentage points to 77.1%. For more information, see the latest press release from International Air Transport Association.

Alliances, codeshares and consolidation

On November 2016, Virgin Australia announced that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding to enter into a strategic cooperation agreement with Air Canada. The first stage of the codeshare is scheduled to be implemented in early 2017.

The ACCC reauthorised the existing alliance between Virgin Australia and Etihad Airways for air services between Australia and United Arab Emirates for another five years.

Singapore Airlines Group (SIA) entered into a codeshare agreement with Air China. Both the parent airline, Singapore Airlines and the subsidiary, SilkAir are involved.

The commercial joint venture between Singapore Airlines, the Lufthansa Group and Swiss International Airlines (Swiss) has resulted in expanded codeshare agreements. Swiss from Zurich via Singapore has added new codeshare connections to Australia; Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.

On 11 April 2016, Virgin Australia entered into a codeshare agreement with Italian flag carrier Alitalia. This will allow Virgin Australia to place it's VA airline code on Alitalia flights from Abu Dhabi to Rome and Milan. 

On 16 May 2016, eight Asia-Pacific airlines officially entered into the largest low-cost carrier (LCC) alliance. The creation of this Value Alliance (VA) is expected to boost every member's airline revenue and each of their network spread. The members of this alliance consists of  Tigerair Australia, Cebu Pacific (including its subsidiary Cebgo), Jeju Air, Nok Air and NokScoot, Scoot, Tigerair Singapore and Vanilla Air.

Virgin Australia announced that they will be working with HNA Aviation Group, China's largest private airlines operator on May 2016. This alliance will look into introducing direct flights between Australia and China and coordinating code-sharing ,frequent flyer programs and lounge access. HNA has also invested $159 million in the Virgin Australia which will give HNA a 13% stake in Virgin Australia as part the strategic commercial alliance.

Other news 

On November 2016, the 'open skies' pact was signed by the Australian and Chinese governments. Both Minister Darren Chester and Minister Steven Ciobo said that this will further strengthen the bilateral relationship and offer more opportunities for Australia's tourism and trade.

On October 2016, the Sunshine Coast airport is officially designated as an international airport and can conduct year around Trans-Tasman services without the need for season-by-season approval. Peter Pallot, the GM for the Airport added "Once the new runway is operational in 2020 the opportunities to attract new freight and additional passenger services from other destinations will bring substantial benefits to our region".

Cathay Pacific will be boosting passenger and cargo capacity between Melbourne and Hong Kong with the use of the larger Airbus A350-900 and Boeing 777-300ER on the route from early 2017. The upgauge of aircraft type of two of Cathay’s three daily flights represents a capacity increase of 15.7 per cent to Melbourne.       

On September 2016, Emirates reported that it will boost it's current capacity on it's Sydney-Dubai route from 30 October 2016 to three daily flights to Sydney, becoming an all A380 operation,
Korean Air will upgrade it's daily Seoul-Sydney flights to its flagship Airbus A380-800 aircraft from October 2016.

Virgin Australia (VA) revealed plans to begin flying to Beijing and Hong Kong as part of a new venture with China’s HNA group. On June 2016, the IASC has granted VA permission to launch the new services between Australia and China. The services are said to be utilised by no later than June 1 2017.
On May 2016, Singapore Airlines established a holding company, Budget Aviation Holdings Pte Ltd to own and manage its' budget airlines Scoot and Tiger Airways. This will drive deep integration and sharing of key functions, such as in sales, marketing, IT, planning and operations.
Qantas reported changes to their international services after a weak demand seen due to the upcoming federal election and fall in consumer confidence in Australia. This includes the cancellation of three Sydney - Los Angeles flights and redirecting them to more profitable Singapore - Hong Kong routes.

On 25 April 2016, Singapore based low cost carrier Scoot confirmed the launch of their services to India and will include services to Amritsar, Chennai and Jaipur. Scoot country head for India, Bharath Mahadevan mentioned that they expect 50-80 per cent of passengers from India to fly onwards on their network to Southeast Asia and Australia.

Brisbane has been selected to host the major international Asian aviation conference, the Routes Asia in 2018. The event is expected to attract more than 1000 airlines, airports and tourism delegates from 100 countries.

Partnerships and campaigns

Tourism Australia currently has long term agreements with the following airlines to promote Australia to the world as a destination for business and leisure:

More aviation information