Airservices is Australia's air navigation service provider - we provide air traffic control, aviation rescue and fire fighting and air navigation services.

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We support our customers by providing safe and efficient services to over four million aircraft movements that carry more than 152 million passengers annually.

To ensure we continue to deliver these services in a way that continues to create value for our customers while maintaining and enhancing aviation safety, we monitor changes in our operating environment on an ongoing basis to inform our short and long-term planning.

Airservices plays a critical role in safely and efficiently managing the flow of air traffic in the aviation industry, which contributes around $7 billion annually and employs approximately 58,900 people 1.

Key indicators of future demand

Domestic and international economic trends impact the volume of aviation travel and freight. Internationally, the ongoing European debt crisis, Brexit, and persistently low economic growth, along with ongoing economic reform in China, will continue to affect our business outlook. Domestically, there are counterbalancing forces at work. On the one hand, the fall in commodity prices and end of the mining boom have affected Australia’s economic conditions with flow on effects to the aviation industry. On the other hand, the fall of the Australian dollar is likely to encourage growth in international visitors and promote greater domestic travel.

Leisure travel is the main driver behind growth in international air transport demand. Tourism Research Australia anticipates inbound markets will increase by 5.3 per cent per year to 2020–21 with Asian markets, led by China, driving growth. It is anticipated that by 2019–20, there will be a net 20.8 million short-term visitors in Australia including international arrivals and resident returns 2. Capacity will need to grow to meet this increased demand.

Projected population growth will also spur increased demand for air transport services, with Australia’s population set to grow from 24.1 million in 2016 to
30.5 million in 2031, an increase of 1.56 per cent a year. 3

Airport growth

Long-term growth is expected to continue, with passenger movements across all Australian airports forecast to increase by 3.7 per cent a year to 2030–31. Sydney Airport, Australia’s largest airport in terms of passenger and freight movements, is projected to experience passenger movement increases averaging 3.6 per cent a year in the next 20 years to reach 72.0 million in 2030–31. 4

Western Sydney Airport will be the city’s secondary airport and is expected to be operational by 2026. Initially the airport will operate from one runway with approximately five million passengers using it annually, growing to 10 million by the early 2030s. 5 It is anticipated that a second parallel runway will be required by 2050.

Australia’s second largest airport by passenger movements, Melbourne Airport, is expected to increase its passenger movements by 3.9 per cent per year to
60.4 million in 2030–31. The airport is investing in significant infrastructure upgrades. By 2024, parallel runways will be in operation and the airport is expected to be operating at or close to capacity during the peak morning and evening periods.

Brisbane Airport passenger movements are projected to increase by 4.2 per cent every year to 45.1 million in 2030–31. By this time, parallel runways will be operating at Brisbane with the airport expected to be operating at or close to capacity during the peak morning and evening periods. Its neighbour, Gold Coast Airport, is projecting 4.4 per cent annual growth to 13.1 million movements in 2030–31.

In the west, Perth Airport is forecast to handle over 25.7 million passengers a year by 2030–31 with projected annual growth of 4.4 per cent. 6 The airport’s third runway is due to be finished within the next decade.


Our ongoing business transformation demands continual improvements in our safety, compliance and value, enabled by the latest technological advancements. Major disruptions due to rapid changes in technology have the potential to impact the aviation industry, particularly:

  • The Internet of Things—The ever increasing pervasiveness of technology into our everyday lives, through the inter-networking of devices, vehicles, and infrastructure, has enabled companies to collect and exchange data, accessible anytime and anywhere, on a scale not previously seen.
  • Big data, machine learning and real-time analytics—Air traffic management is being transformed by the accelerated progression from directive and instruction-based service provision to collaborative, system-wide information-based services. The increasing ability to analyse large data sources in real-time, coupled with machine learning, is driving new capabilities that have the potential to revolutionise the way we interact with our customers.
  • New business ecosystems—The combination of emerging technologies and non-traditional providers has created new entrants in the aviation environment, with companies challenging conventional business models. This could extend to remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) as well as other players in the air transportation value chain.
  • Cyber security threats—A greater reliance on computer systems has resulted in a continuous increase in the frequency and sophistication of cyber attacks, requiring increased vigilance. In operating environments highly reliant on information access and sharing, constant monitoring and rapid response is needed to ensure we maintain integrity and reliability.

Reduced emissions

In 2010 the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) adopted the following goals for aviation:

  • A global annual average fuel efficiency improvement of two per cent until 2020, and an aspirational global fuel efficiency improvement rate of two per cent a year from 2021 to 2050
  • A collective medium-term global aspirational goal to keep the global net carbon emissions from international aviation at the same level from 2020.

Realising these goals requires a whole-of-industry approach to improve and leverage aircraft technology and aviation infrastructure, as well as to deliver more efficient aircraft operations.

1. Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, 2016, Trends: Transport and Australia’s Development to 2040 and beyond, p.45
2. Tourism Research Australia, 2016, State of the Industry 2016, p.7, 18
3. Infrastructure Australia, 2015, Population estimates and projections, Australian infrastructure audit background paper, p.6
4. BITRE, 2012, Air passenger movements through capital and non-capital city airports to 2030–31, p.v, 24
5. Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, 2016, An airport for Western Sydney: building Western Sydney’s future
6. BITRE, 2012, Air passenger movements through capital and non-capital city airports to 2030–31, p.4–7