Which are the most popular international airlines in Australia?

Angus Kidman 1 June 2016

Sydney Airport

Qantas at #1 is no surprise, but who else are we flying with?

Australia is a long way from everywhere, so we jump on planes a lot (and put up with flight delays a lot). We don't always go very far: the most common city pairing for international flights is Sydney-Auckland. But which airlines do we choose?

Each month, the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) tracks which airlines are being used in Australia for international flights. The chart below shows the most popular choices for the year to March 2016, based on passenger numbers:

Unsurprisingly, Qantas takes the top spot with 15.9% of the market. Add in the 9.4% share for its budget carrier Jetstar and it has just over a quarter of the total market. It also has an extensive codeshare partnership with Emirates (also on 9.4%). Collectively, that means roughly one-third of all flights out of Australia are potentially earning Qantas points and fighting over oneworld upgrades. Bear that in mind the next time you're trying to book a rewards seat.

Two of the next three airlines on the list are part of the rival Star Alliance: Singapore Airlines (8.5%) and Air New Zealand (7.1%, again reflecting the demand for all those flights to Auckland). Sandwiched in between we have Virgin Australia on 7.2%. Its strongest alliance is with Etihad, which has a relatively low 3.0% share. The remainder of the list covers off large areas of Asia: Cathay Pacific with 5.2%, AirAsia X with 3.2%, and Malaysia Airlines with 3.0%.

The 28% listed under "Others" are all fighting for a relatively small stake in the market. BITRE figures show that there are some 58 distinct international airlines (including freight operators) in Australia. The upside for passengers? With all that competition, you're never waiting too long for a price war.

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears Monday through Friday on finder.com.au.

Picture: Tooykrub / Shutterstock.com

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