RECORD PASSENGERS AT SYDNEY AIRPORT

RECORD PASSENGERS AT SYDNEY AIRPORT
A RECORD number of passengers travelled through Sydney Airport (ASX:SYD) in the six months to June 2016.

The airport welcomed 20.3 million passengers, up 6.7 per cent on the previous corresponding period.

The 7.22 million international passengers that ventured through the airport during the period were 9.3 per cent more than the previous year's number of 6.6 million.

Sydney Airport Managing Director and CEO Kerrie Mather described it as an "exceptional result".

Month-on-month figures were also impressive. Compared to June 2015, international passenger growth increased by 7.5 per cent to 1.1 million, driven by strong inbound demand (11.7 per cent).

Chinese (+16.3%), USA (+15.8%), Korean (+34.3%), Indian (+20.9%) and Japanese (+23.6%) nationalities performed well in June 2016, compared to the same month in 2015.

Some of the growth has been attributed to the Vivid Sydney 2016 festival of light, which boasted 2.3 million visitors, an increase of 35.4% on the previous year.

There is strong potential for continued growth in passenger numbers at Sydney Airport, as Xiamen Airlines has announced plans to increase the frequency of the Xiamen-Sydney route in October, from two to four weekly services during the northern winter, which will add 20,500 seats over the season.

The airport will also welcome a new Changsha service, run by Hainan Airlines, and the return of that airline's Xi'an route.

The year round, twice-weekly Sydney-Xi'an and Sydney-Changsha services will commence on 15 and 17 September respectively and will be operated by an A330-200 aircraft with 250 seats, adding an additional 104,000 seats annually.

The Changsha and Xi'an routes are expected to bring 33,000 visitors from China annually, contributing an anticipated $124 million visitor expenditure per year.

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