As the Victorian Government implemented one of the world’s longest and toughest lockdowns, it’s no surprise that Melbourne Airport recorded its lowest monthly passenger numbers in its 50-year history.
In August, only 36,471 people travelled through Melbourne’s international gateway – a 98.8 per cent decrease compared to August 2019 when numbers surpassed more than 3.1 million people.
Last month, new coronavirus related restrictions severely impacted the free movement of people through the introduction of a night-time curfew as well as a 5km travel limit, adding to the state’s Stage 4 restrictions. All other State and Territory borders continued to remain closed to Victoria, despite steady declines in the rate of new infections.
Victorian case numbers peaked in early August, with 700 cases on the 5th of the month. The number dropped significantly by the end of the month plummeting to 65 cases on 31 August, clearly showing the success of the Stage 4 restrictions and prompting business and community leaders to call for a pragmatic “exit plan” out of restrictions.
Melbourne Airport CEO Lyell Strambi said he hoped the recent decline in COVID infections would allow for a review of the nation’s hard border closures and international arrivals ban imposed on Melbourne.
“The tough lockdown measures are working and thankfully our COVID numbers are steadily falling,” said Mr Strambi.
“While our daily infection rate still has a way to go, it is time to start planning for a way out of restrictions.
“Whilst effective, the restrictions and the ban on travel are blunt instruments with severe side effects and should not be used a day longer than necessary.
“We can see a pathway where travel between Victoria and New South Wales could open up well before Christmas.
“Banning international arrivals was the right decision back in July, however now that the state has new systems in place to manage hotel quarantine there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be allowing Victorians stranded overseas to come back home directly through Melbourne Airport.
“It’s time that our nation’s leaders put aside politics and start focusing on how we re-emerge from the crisis together. We need a clear and consistent plan around the reopening of borders so we can connect people and economies.”
Mr Strambi added Australia's major airports and airlines provide a safe and highly controlled, point-to-point environment complete with existing track and trace mechanisms making flying secure when it is able to resume.
Passenger figures for August 2020:
|Total (ex transits)
*Monthly percentage growth compared to August 2019
Passenger figures for Financial Year to August 2020/21
||Financial Year 2020/21 (‘000)
||Financial Year 2019/20 (‘000)
|Total (ex transits)
*percentage growth compared to FY 2019/20