Australians flying off-the-charts

Australians flying off-the-charts

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.


Burning up the runway

Burning up the runway

I often think Facebook is paid by tourism companies to mock my office existence and exaggerate how often my “friends” are on overseas holidays.  But ABS figures[1]suggest Australians really are crossing customs at climate changing rates.

Australians flew overseas 9.3 million times in the 12 months to September 2015. That’s almost 800,000 departures per month. Or in Facebook terms, you can expect more than 3 out of every 100 Aussie friends to travel overseas this month: that’s a myriad mates munching at the Marrakesh markets; a bunch of selfies from Boracay’s beautiful beaches; and the occasional insightfully witticism of the commercialist culture capturing Kolkata.

Australians have long been early adopters of international flights. The first England to Australia flight took place almost a century ago, in 1919 (taking 28 days). Overseas flights, however, have really taken off in the last decades. The number of Australians flying overseas has doubled since 2006, and increased ten-fold since 1977.  Accounting for the population grow, trips per capita have doubled since 2004, and grown six-fold since 1977.

There are many ways of interpreting these figures, depending on what angle / lens / issue you care to focus on.

We could suggest that whilst Australians (according to pop media) are deeply concerned about economic instability and slowing wage rises, they have nonetheless increased their international holidays by 50% per capita since the Global Financial Crisis.

We could similarly insinuate that whilst Australiansconcern for climate change leads them to implement strategies focusing on everyday impacts, they may be undoing all their efforts by ignoring the growth of big ticket items. (The CO2 emissions from a Melbourne to London[2] return flight equate to the yearly emissions per capita for the UK[3].)

Or we could just say “look mum, I’m holding up the Tower of Pisa!” (AGAIN!)