Sydney Airport releases traffic figures for May  

Aerial view of Sydney Airport.
Maksym Kozlenko, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Sydney Airport shows a total of 3,010,000 passengers have gone through the airport facility in the month of May 2023. This represents a strong 85.7% recovery compared to prior-pandemic figures of 85.7% in May 2019. 

Terminal 1 – International

The Sydney Airport Terminal 1 international terminal witnessed 1,076,000 passengers go through in May. This is an 83.1% recovery rate compared to May 2019.

This is great news, as this represents the most robust post-Covid international passenger traffic performance since Australia re-opened its borders. 

Domestic Passengers

On the other hand, domestic passenger flow fared slightly better than International traffic; where the airport registered 1,934,00 movements, which represents an increase of 5.5% year-on-year increase. These figures represent an 87.3% recovery rate compared to May 2019.

Figures of International & Domestic Passenger Throughput  

Source: Sydney Airport 


China Recovery Continues

At this point, most airports in Asia depend on the recovery of Chinese traffic. Sydney Airport is one of them, where it banks on Chinese travellers on the overall recovery of its numbers.

Fortunately, the recovery momentum remains absolutely strong, with the number of Chinese travellers hovering at 54% in May, from a baseline of only 22% at the beginning of this year. 

Continuous Climb

Chinese traffic continues to impressively climb as many Chinese airlines are returning to Australia, and that capacity is added overall.

There are also new routes added to the important route, with direct flights from Shenzen relaunching in June, along with flights from Nanjing returning in July. This will elevate the traffic between Australian and mainland Chinese cities altogether to a total of nine. 

From the breakdown of nationalities using Sydney Airport, New Zealander represents the largest passenger cohort, followed by the Chinese.  

Source: Sydney Airport

Geoff Culbert, Sydney’s Airport CEO said: “The airport has just posted its strongest international traffic numbers since borders closed in March 2020.”

“In the first five months of this year, we’ve had 5.5 million international passengers through Sydney Airport, which is almost three times the number we saw in the same period in 2022.”

“The recovery of the China market continues to impress, with passenger numbers on the mainland route increasing seven-fold since the start of the year. Capacity in this market will continue to grow with seven airlines flying 48 return services per week between mainland China and Sydney in July.”

“This is one of the strongest China recoveries of any international airport globally, which provides a critical boost to Australia’s tourism industry, and the economy more broadly”.


All in all, most airports in Asia and Australia depend on Chinese airlines and the capacity between China and their respective airports to propel passenger traffic to pre-pandemic levels.

This shows how the Chinese market is very important to the aviation community, especially in Asia. Though, Sydney Airport still has the edge from a stronger domestic passenger throughput.

China remains one of the most important crucial markets, aside from New Zealand for the Australian aviation industry.

By Indy Udol 4 Min Read
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