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Australia’s tourism recovery continues apace with Sydney Airport reporting its strongest monthly passenger traffic since 2019.

Some 3.58 million passengers passed through the terminals in December, a 15.8% increase on passenger traffic in the same month in 2022 and a 90.6% recovery compared to December 2019.

The December figure caps off a year when more than 38 million passengers passed through the airport’s terminals, just 13% shy of the annual record of 44.4 million passengers set in 2019.

December 2023 also represented the first month that the reported number of travellers on Australian passports recovered to, and beyond, pre-COVID levels, growing 1.3% compared to December 2019.

“Australian passenger volumes moving beyond 2019 levels is a fantastic way to close out 2023 and draw a line under the COVID era,” said Scott Charlton, Sydney Airport CEO.

“By the end of the year, international passenger volumes have almost fully recovered, and we have experienced one of the strongest China recoveries of any international airport globally with nine airlines flying 89 return-services weekly to mainland China. “

Domestic and regional passenger traffic was up 7.6% on December 2022, with 2.08 million passengers coming through the T2 and T3 domestic terminals.

“Domestically, airline capacity is continuing to impact passenger volumes and there’s still work to do before we see travel habits return to pre-pandemic levels,” Mr Charlton added.