Melbourne Airport has achieved a significant aviation milestone by surpassing 100 per cent of its pre-pandemic capacity for international flights, marking a pivotal moment for Australian aviation and overseas travel. In December 2019, there were 1.29 million available seats, and in Dec. 2023, Melbourne Airport will offer over 1.31 million seats for international passengers, reflecting a one per cent increase. This achievement coincided with the resumption of flights between Melbourne and New Caledonia by Aircalin, utilizing its new A320Neo for a thrice-weekly service to Noumea. Passengers can seamlessly connect to the picturesque islands of Lifou, Ouvea, and the Isle of Pines on a single ticket.
Melbourne Airport CEO Lorie Argus, recognizing the occasion, expressed gratitude to the airport staff for their contributions during challenging times. She attributed the success to the close collaboration with the Victorian government, acknowledging their support in attracting more airlines and aviation activity.
Argus noted that Aircalin’s return brings the total number of international airlines at the hub to 36, with expectations of further additions in the near future. Approximately 10 per cent of the current international capacity is operated by new airlines or on new routes, offering consumers and exporters increased flexibility.
Anticipating a positive impact, Argus believes the rise in flights will exert downward pressure on airfares, addressing latent market demand. She advocates for a liberalization of Bilateral Air Service Agreements, emphasizing the potential for open skies policies to encourage airlines to expand operations into Melbourne.
Victorian Minister for Tourism, Sport, and Major Events Steve Dimopoulos highlighted the significance of increased flights on the state’s tourism sector. He emphasized the positive effects on hospitality, tourism, and job creation as Melbourne continues to attract global travelers.
Aircalin’s celebration of its 40th anniversary included a renewed commitment to sustainability, reflected in their new tagline, ‘New Caledonia, it’s in our nature,’ and a specially designed logo commemorating this momentous occasion on November 24, 2023.