2023 marked a year of recovery for Queensland airports

Passengers disembark an aircraft at Queensland Gold Coast Airport.
Photo Credit: Jetstar Airways, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Queensland Airports Limited (QAL) enjoyed a year of recovery in 2023, witnessing remarkable passenger growth across its extensive network of airports.

From the terminals of Gold Coast Airport (GCA) to Townsville Airport, the numbers paint a vivid picture of a region on the move.

2023 Overall Growth

In 2023, QAL saw a remarkable surge in passenger numbers, with a total of 8.1 million travelers traversing through its four airports.

This marked a substantial 10% increase compared to the previous year, underlining a robust demand for air travel.

Gold Coast Airport: A Thriving Hub

At the heart of this growth story lies Gold Coast Airport, which experienced a notable uptick in passenger traffic.

More than 6.2 million travelers passed through its gates in 2023, representing a significant milestone and a testament to the airport’s growing prominence as a key gateway.

An international airport located on the popular Gold Coast, it is currently the sixth busiest airport in Australia and the busiest in the state of Queensland.


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Operating two terminals for domestic and international operations, the airport is located approximately 90 kilometres (56 mi) south of the capital city of Brisbane.

A new runway is currently under construction, which will be the longest in Australia. The expansion is expected to be completed in 2025.

A Bonza Airlines Boeing 737 on the tarmac.
Photo Credit: Bonza Airlines

Townsville Airport: Reaching New Heights

Not to be outdone, Townsville Airport witnessed its busiest year in over a decade, with 1.6 million passengers embarking on journeys through its terminals.

This surge in activity underscores the region’s economic vitality and the increasing allure of North Queensland as a travel destination.

The airport is currently undergoing a $150 million expansion project, which includes the construction of a new taxiway, baggage carousel, and departure lounge. The expansion project is expected to be completed in 2025.

Passengers disembark an aircraft at Queensland Gold Coast Airport.
Photo Credit: Jetstar Airways, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Insights from QAL’s CEO

Amelia Evans, CEO of QAL, emphasized the enduring appeal of air travel, both domestically and internationally.

She noted that throughout the year, QAL’s airports consistently experienced robust growth, with flights operating at high capacity levels, particularly in and out of Gold Coast Airport.

“Across QAL’s four airports we’ve seen steady growth throughout the year, with figures showing flights were fuller than pre-pandemic, particularly in and out of Gold Coast Airport, where flights were on average 86% full,” said Evans. 

“July was a bumper month for QAL generally, as we welcomed 745,000 passengers throughout our four ports. It was also Townsville Airport’s second busiest month in history!” she said. 

Highlights and Milestones

July emerged as a standout month for QAL, with a staggering 745,000 passengers passing through its four airports. Townsville Airport also witnessed a historic moment, marking its second busiest month on record.

Despite challenges posed by adverse weather conditions, such as storms in the South East and Cyclone Jasper in North Queensland, both Gold Coast and Townsville Airports remained resilient.

The two airports recording bustling travel days, particularly around the December Christmas holiday season.

“The busiest day at Gold Coast Airport was on the 28 December when 145 flights and almost 23,000 travellers passed through the terminal in a single day,” said Evans.

 “Townsville Airport recorded four of its busiest December days in the airport’s history – with most passengers choosing to travel on the 20 December, when more than 6,100 people passed through the terminal,” she concluded.

During December, the Gold Coast-Sydney service emerged as the most sought-after route across QAL’s network, operating at over 90% capacity and serving 724,000 passengers.

Additionally, Mount Isa Airport experienced its fourth busiest year, while Longreach Airport maintained steady passenger numbers consistent with the previous year.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 5 Min Read
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