Key points

  • International passenger growth up 12 per cent compared to February 2017
  • Chinese New Year provides added boost to total passenger numbers
  • Cebu Pacific Air announces it will enter the Melbourne market in 2018

International tourism skyrocketed in February with close to 900,000 passengers flying in and out of Melbourne Airport, a rise of more than 12 per cent compared to February 2017.

Growth in international passenger traffic followed record-setting December and January figures, which saw more than a million international passengers through the airport in each of those months.

The return of Chinese New Year scheduling to the month of February made a strong contribution to passenger numbers for the month, with figures for both arriving and departing passengers falling within the single month.

Domestic travel also increased, up 3.2 per cent compared to the same time last year and translating to 1.9 million domestic passengers for the month.

Melbourne Airport CEO Lyell Strambi said while Lunar New Year celebrations contributed to the significant growth in passenger numbers, the benefits were seen much more broadly.

“Melbourne is such a significant cultural hub and the city comes to life during Chinese New Year, which ultimately plays a big part in attracting visitors to our city,” said Mr Strambi.

“What’s really pleasing from our point of view is that passenger numbers have remained consistently higher throughout the summer, which shows many of the additional seats added by airlines over the past 12 months have been taken up by both Victorian travellers and visitors from around the world.

“This continued growth in passenger numbers has seen international passenger numbers increase month-on-month for almost nine consecutive years.

“But it’s not just international numbers that are exciting in February, with the domestic market picking up slightly after a protracted period of flattening out. This growth was supported by Virgin Australia, Tigerair and Jetstar, which all increased services from Melbourne during the month.

“Our latest forecast puts us on track for almost 70 million annual passengers by 2038, which is why our current focus on investment in infrastructure growth, including building a third runway, is the most important key to the airport continuing to support Victoria’s multi-billion dollar visitor industry – as well as supporting thousands of local exporters,” said Mr Strambi.

February also saw the airport welcome an announcement by Philippine airline Cebu Pacific Air, with services between Manila and Melbourne set to commence on 14 August 2018.

Visit Victoria Chief Executive Officer Peter Bingeman said that the rise in visitor numbers could be attributed to Melbourne’s great reputation as a food and wine, fashion and arts, and major events capital.

“Our varied offering is one of the reasons that both domestic and international travellers are choosing to come to Victoria for business and leisure travel at record levels.”

“We’re looking to keep those numbers growing through three different campaigns currently in market targeting interstate and international visitors with the aim of further increasing tourism’s contribution to the visitor economy.”

 Passenger figures for February 2018:

PassengersFebruary 2018February 2017Growth (%)*
Total (ex transits)2,819,2972,661,4195.9%
Total (ex transits)2,819,297

*monthly percentage growth compared to February 2017

 †financial year-to-date percentage growth

Passenger figures for FY to February 2018:

PassengersFebruary 2018February 2017Growth (%)†
Total (ex transits)24,754,32023,708,7754.4%
Total (ex transits)24,754,320