Airport data good sign for tourism

Taylar AmoniniNorth West Telegraph
The FIFO boom.
Camera IconThe FIFO boom. Credit: Getty Images, Getty

Port Hedland International Airport surpassed Karratha Airport for monthly passenger movements in January.

Figures released last week by the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development show a positive sign for flight numbers in Port Hedland.

PHIA chief executive Mitchell Cameron said while the monthly fluctuations did not indicate an accurate total movement for annual purposes, the airport was delighted with the latest statistics.

“PHIA has been heavily promoting ourselves as the gateway to the Pilbara,” he said.

“We’ve been marketing and advertising flight specials with domestic, interstate and international flights over the last couple of months on our Facebook page.

“That’s been very successful, so we’re delighted that passenger figures are reflecting that.”

While the monthly passenger movements for PHIA did improve, regional airlines suffered decreases in annual passenger movements across the board.

Between January 2016 and January this year, PHIA had a 13 per cent fall in passenger movements, Karratha was down 19.5 per cent, Newman fell 6.6 per cent and Broome had a 6.2 per cent drop.

Mr Cameron said the low figures were due to the downturn in the resources sector rather than a bad omen for the upcoming tourism season for the North West.

“Anyone who lives in the Pilbara knows that business-related travels have reduced,” he said.

“Figures on the grey nomads who came through Port Hedland last year showed it was one of the highest seasons for tourists, so that, just in my mind, shows it’s not tourism that’s impacting flights.”

The figures came as Pilbara Regional Council chief executive Anthony Friday penned an open letter to the Prime Minister calling for lower airfares.

“Most major flight routes aren’t viable unless they are more than 75 per cent full,” he said.

“The flights to these FIFO-heavy regions regularly fly as low as 50 per cent full. It has become the hallmark of this national handbrake on growth.”

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