Air New Zealand becomes Australia's biggest international airline

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - APRIL 19: A Qantas Airbus A330 aircraft takes off destined for Sydney next to Air New Zealand aircraft at the International Airport on April 19, 2021 in Auckland, New Zealand. The trans-Tasman travel bubble between New Zealand and Australia begins on Monday, with people able to travel between the two countries without needing to quarantine. (Photo by James D. Morgan/Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty Images

The trans-Tasman bubble has had an interesting and perhaps unexpected effect on the Australiasian aviation industry, with Air New Zealand becoming Australia's biggest international airline.

Figures released by Australia's Department of Transport show Air NZ carried 49 percent of all international travellers into and out of Australia in the month of May, with Qantas carrying just 22.6 percent.

The big two were followed by Jetstar with 6.7 percent, Singapore Airlines with 5.7 percent and Qatar Airways with 3.9 percent. 

A year earlier during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in May 2020, Qatar was one of the few airlines that kept flying and carried 34.3 percent of travellers in and out of Australia.

In total, 214,246 people passed through Australian airports in May 2021, up from 52,989 during the previous May. However, in May 2019, the much larger number of 3,209,929 people flew into or out of Australia.

The most common route in May was Auckland - Sydney, which was flown by 38,443 passengers. Melbourne - Auckland was second with 27,252.

But the biggest story these statistics tell is just how hard aviation and tourism has been hit and continues to suffer from the pandemic, even when looking at the relatively small global region of Australasia.

Airlines which had been flying in and out of Sydney at least once every day now barely register on the international passenger figures. 

American Airlines carried just 1831 passengers in and out of Australia in May, 2021 - down from 8482 in May, 2019. Emirates' passenger numbers were just 3975 in May, 2021, down from 210,046 in May, 2019.