The demise of the world's third busiest air route

Sydney to Melbourne, the third busiest air route in the world. With the routes, 54,000 flights and 9 million passengers annually the corridor between the capitals of New South Wales and Victoria is a profitable one but what if it wasn’t. Today we are exploring how flights between the two-state capitals ground to a halt and the impact of it.

74 flights each way is the big stat here. That’s how many flights on average operated between Sydney and Melbourne on a daily basis in January 2020. Those flights were operated by four airlines: Tigerair, Virgin Australia, Qantas, and Jetstar and they were often taking off every half an hour during the peak. It was common for people to travel down to Melbourne or Sydney and return to their origin the same day whether it be for work, shopping, or even leisure, the flight takes an hour and with Sydney curfew of 10:30 pm to 6 am and Melbourne’s complete lack of it. The flights were also really cheap with Jetstar or Tigerair sometimes offering seats on the route for as little as $AUD30 with Qantas and Virgin only selling an inclusive airfare for about $AUD100 more, with the airline’s sales getting that price to be under $AUD100. But that’s the past and those days are long behind us. So what happened?

Well like most of the industry a little virus can stop everything. And this route is no exception. When it first hit the route meant reduced flights between the two Aussie capitals but everything was still pretty normal. July, however, was the knockout blow no one saw coming. Without getting too much into it no one from Melbourne or Victoria was allowed was and still isn’t allowed into Sydney or New South Wales. Flights grounded to a halt and the 74 flights each way each day diminished to a mere 3 and sure while no one is stopping people from NSW and Sydney from getting into the southern state they couldn’t get back home. The lack of two-way traffic truly killed the route

The demise of the route forced the end of Tigerair and almost the end of its parent airline, Virgin Australia. The damage of its demise can also be seen at Australia’s busiest airport with Sydney’s newest runway 07/25 becoming a literal parking lot for aircraft that would normally be flying across the country and down to Melbourne, it’s a sad sight. Service on these flights is minimal and a far cry from anything seen prior, arriving flights also are now forced to use Sydney’s international terminal due to border requirements. Will we see the return of this route to its former glory? Absolutely. Is it sad seeing it in its current state? Absolutely. For now, 1 flight operates for each of Australia’s domestic carriers, and hearing “Virgin Australia 873 to Melbourne is paging John Citizen” is extremely rare


A reminder of the sad state of aviation after landing from Adelaide yesterday

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Wow, this whole COVID situation affects more than just the way we live daily. The situation has changed the world forever. During a time in which the air travel industry was booming, the sudden drop-off in need has caused beloved airlines to fall, runways and airports to be scattered with abandoned aircraft, and flights at reduced capacity or some flights being totally canceled. It saddens me how much the industry has changed and how we have all been affected by it.

While Australia is not an area that I have ever visited nor known much about, it has been a dream of mine to visit. My heart goes out to you and all those that are affected and to the two airlines that nearly or did cease operations, such a sad sight to see. Stay safe, Louis!