Auckland International Airport currently one of the busiest in the world

Its most popular destinations maybe aren't where you'd expect.
Its most popular destinations maybe aren't where you'd expect. Photo credit: Getty/Newshub/Great Barrier Airlines

Auckland Airport was one of the busiest in the world in June, as the popularity of domestic travel grew during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While passenger numbers were down 85 percent overall compared to the same month last year – the strength of the domestic market meant Auckland Airport was busier than some of the largest airports in Australia and Asia.

Auckland Airport had 231,600 passengers travel through its international and domestic terminals in June, that's triple the number of people who went through Hong Kong's Airport and almost as many as the number of passengers who flew into or out of London's Heathrow Airport.

In June 2019, 1,535,504 passengers came through Auckland Airport.

Scott Tasker, General Manager Aeronautical Commercial, said well over 100 domestic flights had operated each day from Auckland Airport in June.

"Kiwis are picking up on Tourism New Zealand's message and getting out to see their own country. We saw traveller numbers increase again over the July school-holiday period, putting domestic passenger demand at about 60 percent of what it was during the same time last year. While we're on the right track and it's encouraging to see people returning to travel, we still have a long way to go," Tasker said.

June airport passenger numbers:

  • Brisbane Airport: 184,616 passengers - 20 percent lower than Auckland
  • Sydney had 172,000 passengers - 25 percent lower than Auckland
  • Singapore Changi, had 48,200 passengers  - 79 percent lower than Auckland and far from its usual monthly figure of 5.6 million 
  • Hong Kong had 59,000  - 74 percent lower than Auckland. That's less than half its normal daily passenger total from 2019

Auckland's June numbers were just 28 percent behind the UK's largest hub, London Heathrow, where there were 320,283 passengers for the month of June.

Tasker said the numbers demonstrated the stark reality of the challenges faced by airlines and airports around the world. 

"Everyone in the aviation and tourism industry has been significantly affected by COVID-19. 

"While we're facing challenges in the short term we know that New Zealand is a very desirable destination for travellers and airlines will continue to want to fly here in future."

Of Auckland's 231,600 passengers in June, 206,321 or 89 percent were flying domestically. 

Christchurch was the most popular destination with 10 flights daily, followed by Great Barrier Island with seven flights per day. 

Wellington had on average six flights a day in June while Queenstown had three flights per day.

Nick Pearson, CEO of Barrier Air, said Auckland Airport's support of the company's air services to the Aotea Great Barrier Island community during the pandemic had been crucial.

"Auckland Airport's support has enabled us to keep operating flights ensuring the provision of medical supplies and personnel, food and household grocery supplies, business freight and essential passenger travel in support of the Great Barrier Island community," Pearson said.

International traffic numbers:

  • About 745 international passengers arrived and departed from Auckland Airport daily, about 3 percent of June 2019's total.
  • Of the total number of international passengers in June (22,371) around 9,000 were arrivals – Kiwis coming home. 
  • About half of these passengers came from across the Tasman
  • India was the second largest source of arrivals with 1,500 passengers coming in on dedicated Air India repatriation flights
  • Arrivals from the US and China were next with about 1000 passengers from each
  • Eight airlines operated international passenger flights into Auckland in June
  • On average three international flights arrived per day, compared with around 70 international flights per day in June 2019.