IKEA helps build case for international flights for Canberra Airport

IKEA helps build case for international flights for Canberra Airport

If the ACT is good enough for IKEA then it's good enough for Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines or Emirates to offer international flights, Canberra Airport managing director Stephen Byron says.

Passenger numbers may be on the way down, but Mr Byron is confident 2015 will be the year the airport will have positive news in its bid to attract international flights.

 Canberra Airport managing director Stephen Byron.

Canberra Airport managing director Stephen Byron.Credit:Jay Cronan

Canberra was one of only two major airports to witness a decrease in passenger movements since 2010 with a 14 per cent decline at a time when the rest of Australia had an 11 per cent increase.

But Mr Byron believes the airport's role as a retail hub helped it demonstrate to international airlines its regional significance.


"IKEA nowhere in the world have delivered a store to a population of less than a million people," he told the ABC.

"People might say Canberra and Queanbeyan is only 420,000 [people] but they [IKEA] recognise two things – number one we are a catchment of 900,000 people and number two that we have good incomes.

"With that sized market they [the airlines] can recognise they can have a direct flight to Asia … and also onward to Europe whether that's Frankfurt, London or Paris."

Mr Byron said the ACT was "more than half as big" as Adelaide which had 32 international flights per week.

"I know in terms of quality and tourism experience we're better than half as good as Adelaide and we can certainly sustain a daily flight to the Asian region," he said.

Mr Byron said Badgerys Creek was the best solution for Sydney's second airport, but believed Canberra Airport would be able to capitalise on the 15-year wait until the new airport was up and running.

Low cost international airlines were also on the horizon for Canberra Airport, helping it to become an alternative to Sydney in 10 years, Mr Byron said.

"There's no reason why in the future people couldn't come from Sydney to Canberra to fly on cheap airfares, but what we've got to do first is establish the viability to start off these international services," he said.

Clare Colley is Head of Audience Engagement at The Australian Financial Review. She was previously an online editor, arts editor and journalist at The Canberra Times.

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