That could mean an additional 14,500 passengers arriving in Brisbane from overseas each week.
Brisbane Airport now has between 75 and 80 international passenger flights each week – 40 arriving and 40 departing – plus 52 freight flights.
That means there 16,500 available international seats in and out of Brisbane each week, which would put extreme pressure on the state’sa quarantine system.
However, now most international seats are empty.
Strict international passenger caps for arriving passengers since 2 July 2021, means Brisbane Airport has been capped at 650 inbound passengers each week.
“As a result, more than 14,500 seats have been empty on existing scheduled flights operating into Brisbane every week,” Mr de Graaff said.
International bookings have tentatively started to increase, he said.
“Outbound bookings have increased for the period from mid-December onwards, but many people are still holding off booking until there is clarity on the quarantine requirements when they return to Australia,” he said.
“If hotel quarantine for 14 days is required, then it will be a demand killer.
“If home quarantine is possible for a shorter period, then more people will be prepared to travel.”
Queensland is trialling a limited home quarantine system for 1000 people.
Mr de Graaff said demand for flights between Australia and the United Kingdom, United States of America, Singapore, Japan, and New Zealand “was high”.
“There is significant ’visiting friends and relatives (VFR) traffic on these routes,” he said.
“We think any market where there is high VFR demand will have an initial surge once borders open, as people have been separated from loved ones for two years.
“We also expect high demand for India, China, Taiwan, and Korea, as well as the Pacific Islands.”
Mr de Graaff warned governments not to delay too long on raising caps for international travellers after 80 per cent vaccination levels are reached.
“Our airline partners are ready for international traffic, and we hope to retain as many of them as possible” he said.
“But unless they can fly without a cap on passenger numbers, they will probably take their aircraft elsewhere.
“It is one of our greatest worries that if Queensland waits too long to allow cap-free inbound travel, and ultimately quarantine-free travel, then airlines will make the reasonable decision to take their business where they can make a profit.
“This would be terrible for Queenslanders.”
Before the COVID-19 pandemic in February 2020 there were 29 airlines operating international passenger services to and from 34 international destinations, Mr de Graaf said.
“There are now 12 international destinations operated by 12 airlines,” he said.