Australians flying off-the-charts

by | Jan 9, 2016 | Australia, climate change, consumption, travel

In this age of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, it seems Australians have coordinated a national group exposure therapy for one of the most common fears… aviophobia.

In 2014, 52 million people boarded domestic flights in Australia¹. That’s 2.2 flights per capita (or 1 return trip per person). Much like the growth seen in International flights, domestic flights have been increasing at almost exponential rates since 1945.

Domestic Passengers per capita

Domestic flights have become such commonplace that the Sydney to Melbourne route (and back) ranks in the top 5 busiest routes in the world²³!

Perhaps even more surprising is that the Melbourne – Launceston route (Australia’s 17th most popular in 2014) was busier than every route in England. In fact, there were only 6 European countries in 2014 (France, Spain, Norway, Germany, Italy and Sweden) with a busier domestic route than Melbourne to Launceston4.

Overall, there are twice as many plane passengers in Australia per capita than the OECD average, when comparing all fights (domestic and international).

Flights by country 2

When it comes to environmental impact, flights ain’t flights. The routes included in BITRE “Top routes” list range from 236km (Sydney to Canberra) to 3,615km (Brisbane to Perth). Since 1945, the average distance travelled per passenger per trip has increased steadily to 1,200km (roughly Sydney to Adelaide, or Perth to Karratha). So, not only are Australians travelling more, but they are also travelling further.

Flight Distance 3

* Weighted average, by number of passengers.

This means the overall impact is starting to sound like a Daft Punk song…

Longer, faster, more often…

Or in CO2 terms… more, more, more.

CO2 emmissions per capita

In 2015 Australians will emit more CO2 in domestic flights alone, than the people from the bottom 42 countries emit in total, (roughly 500kg).5

I suppose this is the price of aviophobia  therapy.


p.s.: For those wondering, the sharp dip in 1989 is due to the Pilot’s strike:


[1] Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE)



[4] Not including Russia, as their figures were not found.