Almost A Quarter Of The Seats On Flights In Australia Are Empty

You wouldn't think it if you're on a Friday afternoon flight between Sydney and Melbourne, but it turns out that there are a lot of empty seats on Australian domestic flights. In 2013, the "load factor" (aviation speak for the number of occupied seats) was 76.5 per cent.

That figure was revealed in the annual roundup of airline traffic data by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). For maximum profitability, that figure would be at 100 per cent, but that's unlikely. By global standards, 76.5 per cent is relatively high: the US tops the rankings with 83.8 per cent.

The number of passengers flying in Australia rose by 2.8 per cent, but the number of available seats went up by 3.8 per cent, which means planes are slightly emptier than they were in 2012. Here's to more flights with an empty seat next to me!



    Perhaps they should employ a thing similar to last minute accommodation booking.
    Im sure alot of people would consider a quick trip to an aussie city for the weekend if they could get cheaper flights.

    Last edited 07/02/14 8:49 am

      They would have to leave on Thursday and come back Monday after lunch. Because none of the Friday <--> Sunday flights I'm on ever have free seats.

    To be honest as cheap as flying has become in Australia I still think the price of domestic flights are still too high when compared to overseas flights. When flights to Indonesia are cheaper then Perth why bother :P )

    I understand they have to pay their staff Australian standard rates and whatnot but I believe they would have better odds at filling up the entire planes.

      Yeah, there's something wrong with the world when you can fly back and forth to Japan five times for the price of a ticket to Perth.

      Costs of domestic flights in the US are similar... at least for long distance.

        Pay peanuts, get monkeys, think of that next time you want to pay less for the flight than the cost of the taxi to the airport and then wonder who the blokes upfront are and their qualifications...

          I think you've taken the point wrong here. The original comment was that Australian domestic flights were too expensive compared to domestic rates in other countries. I was saying that does not seem to be the case, at least with the US. It's not cheap, but it's not too expensive either.

    How many of these flights with lots of empty seats are smaller flights travelling between smaller country areas though?

      Not as many as you'd think. Those services are run much less frequently and typically at intervals that ensure high utilisation. Maybe two or three services a week or mabye once daily, or twice a day only depending on the route.

    Maybe if they made them cheaper…more people would be willing to fly? Actually, never mind, that thought is simply ludicrous….

      Yes, excellent, why don't we get the same prices as the US domestic flights do?! I can definitely put up with Pilots who are earning a pittance and having to work 2 jobs to make ends meet being bloody tired up front and in control of my well being, so long as I can get a cheap ass flight!! /SARCASM

        You miss the point entirely. Most of the costs are a ridiculous markup for profit by the companies. I'm all for paying pilots money they deserve, but even adding various costs and taxes onto that doesn't justify some of the prices of airlines. I suspect (but could be wrong) that a number of other people might agree, given there are so many spare seats on planes…

    Pulling up the management interface in the scheduling program for my airline shows the current loading at any particular time. Right now as I write this we are at 65% (I won't say how many aircraft and PAX are in the air right now but many people would consider it's a huge number) - 65% is ok, it's now after peak flying time and aircraft are moving to strategic positions for the afternoon peak.

    There are many factors in why this figure is closely tracked by us and why don't push it too high. Trade secrets sadly stop me explaining it. One must balance capacity over multiple flights by the same rego for many hours into the future taking account of pax connections - it's very much like a chess game.

      A quick look at this snap-shot from 3pm on a Friday shows how many humans are currently jaunting about at 30,000 feet above our heads. A large number indeed. But check back to the same webpage between 5-7pm tonight and see that number DOUBLE. Same for the morning-peak. Then really freak yourself out and look at some other areas like USA, EU and Asia.

      A high stakes game of aluminium chess if there ever was one !!!,142.46/5

    Id love for some cheaper flights. $100 return for a weekend away leaving Friday night? A man can dream...

    AFAIK passenger services represent a fairly low chunk of the revenue - most of the money made comes from the freight service, goods transported on passenger planes.

    Makes sense that the bulk of these empty seats are during off-peak times/days. Not much consolation for those off us dependent on red-eye or "commuter" flights which are almost always standing room only.

    Having just flown 19 sectors across the Xmas/Jan period to all parts of this great land... I can say that Jan is dominated by once-a-year flyers and families on holidays. Even the J seats were taken by families... presumably using up FF points to grab available upgrades while the regular Business flyers are quiet.... that's what I did :)

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now