FIFO workers boost air traveller numbers to regional areas

MORE than 10% growth in passenger movements to "very remote" areas of the country could be attributable to the practice of fly-in, fly-out work, new government data reveals.

The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics released an update to air transport trends in regional Australia on Tuesday.

While the figures show a rise in flights to and from inner and outer regional areas, there was an unprecedented 10.2% rise in flights to the nation's most remote areas since 2007.

The data showed a rise in very remote flights of just fewer than 10% between 2005 and 2010, and when combined with the latest increase reveal the two biggest rises of any regional category since 1984.

Between 2010 and 2012, total passenger movements rose from 22.5 million to 24.4 million, with a higher average growth rate than airports in major cities, growing at 4.6% compared with 3.5% respectively.

The total number of regional airports in Australia rose from 148 in 2010 to 171 airports in 2012, reversing the longer-term trend of regional and remote airports being shut down.

While the big rise in passenger movements was at very remote airports, inner and outer regional airports also had growth of 3.3% and 4.4% respectively.

The figures also show that vast majority of air travel in regional areas was between regional towns and cities and the major cities.

Air travel between major cities and regional areas accounted for more than 90% of the entire regional aviation market, rather than the less than 10% between regional airports.

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