Over the last 40 years, global air travel has increased almost eight-fold and is set to rise further. This rapid growth is putting infrastructure strain on capital cities, but also putting pressure on airports to validate their future investment in terms of regional return on investment, not just increased capacity.

Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) recently contracted researchers from Griffith University School of Aviation to record and analyse passenger travel patterns and behaviour to provide a clearer picture of the contribution travellers make to the whole state’s economy.

Improved infrastructure

The Brisbane Airport is one of the few airports in Australia that is ahead of the growth curve. Already boasting train access, improved road access, the airport also has a third runway scheduled to open in 2020. When upgrades have finished, Brisbane’s airport will have the same level of capacity as Hong Kong and Singapore while Melbourne and Sydney are still debating improvements.

But Governments don’t pour money into these investments to stoke interstate rivalries; they do it to improve the capacity of their economies to grow and create jobs and economic activity. To maximize the opportunities of growth from investment, Brisbane Airport needs the best information possible on the movements of people coming and going.

Better Understanding

A team led by Associate Professor Gui Lohmann, Professor Tim Ryley and PhD candidate Bojana Spasojevic and researchers from the Griffith Institute for Tourism and the Cities Research Institute has been brought in to run the survey and analysis of passenger movements over three months in late 2017.

Outbound international passengers will answer questions about their travel in Queensland, including the destinations visited, the money spent on various cities, towns and natural attractions. Employing a variety of statistical techniques, Dr Lohmann’s team will anchor their data with larger surveys, including the International Visitor Survey data collected by Tourism Research Australia.

Big Data

“Big data and integration of passenger movements, in terms of the whole air transport and tourism industry experience, is a big change in this area,” said Dr Lohmann.

“Up till now, data has been fragmented and not providing any great understanding of how tourists/passengers behave along the whole trip. Surveys like this are not only providing information but creating value for the whole tourism industry”.

“By seeing your airport as a regional gateway and having a solid, data-driven, understanding of where your passengers are going next and why; a smart, integrated industry can direct resources to maximise returns and facilitate further growth,” he said.

Dr Lohmann’s team were brought to BAC’s attention after completing similar work for Adelaide Airport, Queensland Airports Limited (Gold Coast) and analysis of international aviation policies and networks.

The Griffith Institute for Tourism is one of Australia’s leading tourism research organisations and has held a prominent place at Griffith for many years. The institute’s research has been a key component in the Queensland tourism industry’s resurgence following the global financial crises, and their research covers everything from large-scale analyses of international travel movements to tourism resources in rural Queensland towns and National Parks. The Cities Research Institute has recently been ranked among the top 100 transport research centres in the world.