Australia’s corporate travel significantly down after the mining boom

    The end of the mining boom has reduced business air travellers in Australia in recent years despite continued broader economic growth with the two key mining states of Western Australia and Queensland experiencing substantial decreases in business air travellers, says new Roy Morgan research.

    The research shows that 2.2 million Australians travelled by air for business purposes in 2017, equivalent to 11% of the population, however this was down a significant 1.3% points since the height of the mining boom in 2010.

    Deeper analysis by State reveals a substantial part of this fall has been concentrated in the mining states of Western Australia in which 11.6% of the population were business air travellers in 2017, down 4.1 percentage points since 2010 and Queensland in which business air travel is down 3.9 percentage points to 10.2%.

    The prevalence of FIFO workers in the mining industry has clearly fallen significantly over the last few years as big mining projects have been completed and the workforce required to maintain operations is invariably lower than required to ‘kick-start’ a new project to begin with.

    Business Air Travellers by State (2010 v 2017)

    Source: Roy Morgan Research

    Business Air Travellers Destinations by State/Territory (2010 – 2017)

    Source: Roy Morgan Research

    Analysing the destinations for business air travellers over the past seven years shows that New South Wales has gained a significantly greater share of business air travellers now at 29.3% of business air travellers by destination up 4.4 percentage points since 2010.

    However, although Western Australia is down the most, by 2.4 percentage points to 9.7% of business air travellers in 2017, other States including Victoria, Queensland and South Australia have all fallen over the past seven years by lesser amounts.

    Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine, said the end of the mining boom hit many industries hard and the drop in ‘FIFO’ workers employed at resource projects in Western Australia has provided a definite ‘hit’ to airlines flying to WA not fully made up elsewhere:

    “Detailed analysis of trends in business travel in Australia show total business air travellers remained relatively static over the past seven years despite the significant increase in Australia’s overall population.

    “In 2017 11% of Australians, or 2.2 million people, travelled by air for business down from a high of 12.3% in 2010-11, equivalent to 2.24 million people, at the height of the mining boom. WA business air travellers, which includes the so-called ‘FIFO’ workers, led the drop, down 4.1 percentage points to 11.6%, from a high of 15.7% in 2010.

    “Other States also dropped during the period by lesser amounts with Victoria the only State to experience an increase in business air travellers, up 0.3 percentage points to 10.5% – a figure still significantly below the national average.

    “Although the overall  number of business air travellers around Australia was relatively unchanged over the past seven years far more business air travellers, now 29.3 per cent up 4.4 percentage points, are heading to NSW. The rise of NSW as a business destination hasn’t only come at the expense of WA with Victoria, Queensland and South Australia all losing ground as destinations since 2010.”