Regional Air Travel Spike

Over the last three years, Australians have discovered that many parts of regional Australia are fantastic places to live and work. As a result, Australian regions are undergoing significant population growth, with 10.5 million people forecasted to be living outside our major capital cities by 2032[1]. As people move their livelihoods out of the major cities, business travel has shifted with them. Corporate Traveller’s booking data from 2022 shows regional corporate flight bookings are up 10.5% on 2019.[2]

In an analysis of the regional routes that businesses took in 2022, Corporate Traveller also uncovered the top 10 routes. Brisbane proved to be a popular destination for regional business travellers to embark from, with six out of 10 of the top routes leaving from the major city. Queensland regions also took eight spots out of the top 10 placings.

Sunset over beach coastal town from above

The top regional routes, ranked:

  1. Brisbane-Mackay
  2. Perth-Kalgoorlie
  3. Brisbane-Rockhampton
  4. Brisbane-Townsville
  5. Brisbane-Moranbah
  6. Brisbane-Emerald
  7. Brisbane-Cairns
  8. Sydney-Gold Coast
  9. Melbourne-Gold Coast
  10. Perth-Port Hedland

Corporate Traveller Australian-based Global Managing Director, Tom Walley, says Queensland is a stand-out destination for regional business travel thanks to its population boom over the last couple of years. “Of all the states and territories, Queensland had the highest population growth rate in the year to June 2022, at 2%.[3] This is higher than Australia’s average growth of 1.1% in the same period.[4] Interstate migration was the major contributor.”

Brisbane Airport Corporation CEO Gert-Jan de Graaff adds, “This data underscores what an essential hub Brisbane Airport is for Queensland and our role in supporting regional economies. Brisbane is Australia’s most connected domestic airport, with connections to 53 towns and cities, 30 of them in Queensland. These services enable the tourism, resources and agricultural sectors and the dispatch of high-value exports to global markets. Importantly, they connect Queenslanders to the world and communities with each other.

The regions that topped the list of business flight routes in the ranking have undergone recent promising growth in population and business industries. Mackay, which placed first, is among Queensland’s highest growing locations in the State’s property market – prices increased by 7.4% in the year to 31 January 2023. Other regions that also appeared in the top 10 list have also seen strong property growth, with property prices in Townsville increasing by 6.4% and 5.5% in Cairns.[5]

Corporate Traveller also ranked the industries that have grown their travel to regional areas, against 2019 regional travel bookings as below:

  1. Mining
  2. Government
  3. Construction
  4. Accommodation
  5. Food services
  6. Manufacturing

Tom says, “With Australia’s significant increase in mining exports, it’s no wonder the mining industry topped the list – and I expect to see the industry continue to lead all business sectors flying to regional areas this year.” Export earnings in commodities reached a record $422 billion in the 2022 financial year and is forecast to reach $450 billion this financial year.[6]

[2] Corporate Traveller analysed booking data from 1 January-31 December 2022 – derived from Flight Centre Corporate. Comparisons are made with bookings in 2019 (before the pandemic) when business flights were at normal levels.

Catch up on the latest business travel news