Sydney Airport anticipates largest holiday travel period in 4 years

Exterior of Sydney Airport with Christmas tree.
Photo Credit: Sydney Airport

Sydney Airport is expecting 2.6 million passengers during the 3-week Christmas holiday peak, almost half a million more than last year. It is projected to be the largest Christmas travel season for the capital city airport in 4 years.

This forecast marks a significant surge of 500,000 more passengers compared to the 2022 holiday peak, showcasing a remarkable 95% recovery compared to the pre-pandemic period in 2019.

International Travel Surges


The international sector is set to experience an impressive resurgence, with an anticipated 1.1 million passengers traversing the T1 international terminal.

This marks a substantial 34% increase from the previous year, reflecting a robust rebound in overseas travel.

Domestic: A 16% Surge in Numbers


Simultaneously, the domestic terminals (T2 and T3) are projected to handle 1.5 million passengers during the holiday period, indicating a noteworthy 16% increase from the previous year.

With such heightened activity, passengers are strongly advised to plan ahead for a smooth journey.

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Sydney Airport Handles 3.25m Passenger in August 2023
Photo Credit: MDRX via Wikimedia Commons.

In the midst of the bustling terminals, domestic passengers are urged to arrive one hour prior to departure for hand-luggage-only flights and two hours if checking in bags.

International travelers should plan for a three-hour lead time unless specified otherwise by their airlines.

For those planning to park at the terminals, booking parking in advance is recommended to secure a spot and avail the best deals.

Scott Charlton, the CEO of Sydney Airport, expresses enthusiasm, stating, “Our teams are ready to welcome travelers for the airport’s biggest holiday period in four years.”

“It’s heartening to witness a surge in international travel and to welcome both Australians exploring overseas and overseas visitors choosing Sydney for their summer getaway.”

Baggage: A New Incentive Program


To enhance passenger experience during this bustling holiday season, Sydney Airport has introduced a groundbreaking incentive program aimed at expediting baggage delivery.

The airport has allocated a monthly pool of $250,000, to be distributed among ground handling companies that efficiently deliver bags to carousels in the T1 international terminal.

The airport’s long-term vision is to ensure no passenger waits more than 10 minutes at a baggage carousel. This incentive program is part of a broader plan to reduce connection times between international and domestic terminals to a swift 60 minutes.

Adrian Witherow, Sydney Airport’s Chief Operating Officer, highlights the importance of collaboration, stating, “Complete alignment between every service provider is crucial to delivering a great outcome for customers.”

“Our new baggage incentive aims to make every minute count for our passengers, from speeding up security lines to reducing wait times at the baggage carousel.”

Improvements in Transfer Services


Around one in five international passengers transfer onto a domestic flight, necessitating efficient transfer services.

Recent enhancements include dedicated transfer check-in services at T1 international, strategic signage placement, and relocating transfer bus stops closer to the terminals.

Since 2022, wait times at security checkpoints have significantly decreased. An impressive 95% of domestic passengers pass through security in under 5 minutes, with 90% of international passengers achieving the same swift passage.

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Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
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Sydney Airport is expecting 2.6 million passengers during the 3-week Christmas holiday peak, almost half a million more than last year.
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