PUBLISHED 21 SEPTEMBER 2019
Launceston Airport (LST) serves the busy northern Tasmanian city of over 80,000 people. It is the second busiest airport in Tasmania with nearly 110,000 passenger movements in July 2018.
Launceston Airport is 171 metres above sea level and has a single asphalt runway of 1,981 metres – capable of handling a Boeing 767.
Launceston handles domestic flights only and is served by QantasLink, Jetstar, Virgin Australia, and Sharp Airlines. Its busiest route is Launceston-Melbourne-Launceston, carrying 77,100 passengers on that route in July 2019.
Between them Jetstar, QantasLink, and Virgin Australia fly to Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane from Launceston. Commuter airline, Sharp Airlines, has direct flights to Burnie, King Island, and Flinders Island.
Launceston Airport has over 110 return services a week on the big three carriers. Approximately ¾ of these services are Launceston-Melbourne-Launcestion flights. This route was the Australia’s 19th busiest route (in terms of passenger numbers) in July 2019.
On this sector, the flights are split fairly evenly between Jetstar, QantasLink, and Virgin Australia. In October 2019, Jetstar has scheduled up to five Launceston-Melbourne return services a day and doesn’t operate less than four return services on any given day. Jetstar operates A320s and A321s on the route.
Virgin Australia operates approximately 25 return Launceston-Melbourne services each week, varying between three and four return services a day. Virgin Australia operates two class Boeing 737-800s on the route.
QantasLink consistently offers four return Launceston-Melbourne flights each day (except Saturdays when they drop back to three). QantasLink operates Dash 8 400s on the route.
Of the 84 weekly return Launceston-Melbourne services scheduled in October 2019, Jetstar operates 32 weekly, Virgin Australia 25 weekly, and QantasLink operates 27 weekly.
Both Jetstar and Virgin Australia offer Launceston-Sydney-Launceston flights. In passenger number terms, this route was Australia’s 38th busiest in July 2019, carrying 23,700 passengers in that month.
Virgin Australia offers a single daily flight on one of their 737-800s. Jetstar flies double dailys to Sydney every day except for Monday and Saturday when it drops back to once daily.
All up there are 19 weekly Launceston-Sydney-Launceston flights across October 2019. Jetstar operates nearly ⅔ of them.
Both Jetstar and Virgin Australia fly Launceston-Brisbane-Launceston. Jetstar offers a daily flight. Virgin Australia offers a single weekly return service each Saturday. There are 8 weekly return flights in total. Jetstar operates nearly 90% of those flights.
Other than the Dash 8 QantasLink services, Qantas has largely abandoned Launceston. That said, the QantasLink timetable is consistent, there is a regional Qantas Club lounge at Launceston Airport, and you can make good connections out of Melbourne.
The airline seems determined to push the bulk of its passengers onto Jetstar, it’s low cost carrier offshot. Jetstar operate the most flights in and out of Launceston, 44% of the total in any given week in October 2019. That figure rises to 60% if you only count jet aircraft.
Virgin Australia has long had an ambivalent relationship with Tasmania. It offers flights but is always outgunned in flight numbers by Jetstar. The lack of Virgin lounges in Tasmania is a sore point with corporate travellers and frequent flyers. But Virgin Australia is the only airline offering business class into Launceston and its daily service to Sydney is handy. Its weekly service to Brisbane is kind of pointless.
Of the three big airlines flying into Launceston, Jetstar has the best choice of flights and carries the most passengers.
You might say it owns Launceston Airport.