Transportation Deployment Casebook/2018/Australian Domestic Air Travel


Aviation denotes any machine which is able lift itself off the ground. Such aircrafts include fixed wing aircrafts, rotary-wing aircrafts, and wingless crafts such as balloons and airships.


People have been interested in the idea of flight for thousands of years. The earliest documented form of man-made flight was by the Chinese in the form of kite flying several hundred years before Christ along with the sky lanterns around the 3rd century. For approximately the next one and half thousand years man made flight has made little progression until the discovery of hydrogen gas in the 18th century which perhaps reignited the spark for human flight. Hydrogen gas enabled the first real controllable flight in the form of a hot air balloon. The Wright Brothers became the first people to successfully fly a plane with a person in it in 1903. The plane flew for about twelve seconds and covered 36m. Since then, the technology used for flight today has advanced dramatically.  The first timetabled air service was on January 1, 1914, from St. Petersburg, Florida, to Tampa, Florida and has since become a common form of transport today.

Technological/Production Characteristics of an AircraftEdit

Airplanes have evolved from low-powered wooden planes to high-powered monoplanes (one set of wings) with aluminium being the major material used in building the plane. In the process of designing airplanes today, engineers to consider many components. These are:

·     How the aircraft will be manufactured

·     The desired passenger capacity

·     The range and speed of the plane

·     Passenger comfort

·     Requirements for landing and navigating/parking in airports

·     Flight controls

·     Fuel Efficiency

·     Materials being source and produced

·     Minor details within the airplane

·     Engine

·     Wings

·     Fuselage

Advantages of Air TravelEdit

·     Air travel is the fastest common form of public transport used today and hence have high speed arrival/delivery times.

·     Minimal Infrastructure is needed to invest in air travel. Airports and hangers and the major components needed. No interlinking roads/rails are needed for air travel.

Disadvantages of Air TravelEdit

·     The costs associated with air travel are fairly high due to the high safety risks in the event that something does go wrong with the aircraft.

·     The carrying capacity of aircrafts are relatively low compared to its transport counterparts such as shipping and rail transport.

·     There is a need for highly trained, experienced and skilled personnel which involves a substantial investment.

·     Air transport is susceptible to bad weather. Delays are often experienced in air travel.

Main marketsEdit

Today air travel is a common form of transport. However, it was once limited to those who could afford the relatively expensive tickets during the birth phase of the industry. According to a study by Compass Lexecon [1], commissioned by Airlines for America, "the average flight from L.A. to Boston in 1941 was worth $4,539.24 per person in today’s money, and it would have taken 15 hours and 15 minutes with 12 stops along the way. in 2015, a nonstop flight, costs $480.89 and takes only six hours." [1]

Transfers at popular transport hubs such as Beijing, Dubai and Los Angeles  are required for most aircrafts to refuel and restock food and water. The first non-stop flight from Perth to London occurred on the 24th of March 2018 which took 17 hours. However, this is still one of the first ‘extreme long haul travel’ examples. The question of passenger comfort raises as not all people are willing to be stuck inside an airplane for around 17 hours. This new extreme distance commercial flight has only just become a profitable form of transport. The added weight of carrying large amounts of fuel to be able to cover such large distances has only just become feasible due to new technology in fuel efficiency which makes this flight profitable for the airline.

Cargo transport is also a large market of the aviation industry. Aviation provides a fast however relatively expensive form of mail compared to its counterparts of shipping, rail or by road.

Other Modes of Transport Prior to the Aviation IndustryEdit

Prior to air travel, the mode of travel used for people was most likely rail, for middle to long distance, or shipping for extreme long distance travel across continents. These forms transportation are both slower than air travel. The limitations of both rail and sea are mainly the speed at which these both travel. For short trips of duration of less than four hours, travel by rail is the preferred mode of transport due to cost and speed. Airport congestion due to security checks and mandatory check in times for language make rail a more convenient option.

Aviation itself created a new market for long distance travel. Aviation has allowed for easy access around the world with flights from one side of the globe to the other in around 24 hours, accentually ‘shrinking the world’.


In 1901 the Wright brothers gathered data from others who had previously studied aerodynamics before them and used this data to build a glider based on this data. The initial design had many flaws however it wasn’t until their invention of the three-axis control [2] which enabled the pilot to steer the airplane in all three directions which remains the standard today. The wright brothers also tested 200 wing shapes to determine which shape would provide the best lift. It was found that making the wing thicker at the front so it tapers off at the rear decreased air pressure above the wing and increased air pressure below the wing. This is also still used today in modern aviation. In December 1903, the brothers unveiled the ‘flyer,’ a motorized version of the glider. A petrol engine was added which they had designed and craved themselves in their bike shop as other engines were too heavy for their design. This was when the first motorised flight was recorded.

Market DevelopmentEdit

In the early 1900s the development of the plane came just in time for world war one. The first use of an airplane for military purposes was in 1911, three years before the world’s first commercial flight in America. The early market in air travel was for military use. Reconnaissance, bombing and artillery correction flights were the main uses and were generally discounted before world war one due to their lack of offensive capabilities. This changed when Roland Garros attached a fixed machine gun to the front of his plane in 1914.  

The market niche of air travel was that this was an entirely new form of transport. The speed at which they travelled was second to none and as the technology and safety got better and the and travel times got shorter, the aviation industry grew. Improvements in fuel efficacy saw the mode of travel becoming increasingly cheaper especially with stiff competition from competing airline companies. This opened the world and has allowed air travel to become common place.


Trans Australian Airlines was initially intended to be a monopoly national carrier, all the routes flown by Australian National Airways and any other non-government airlines. This was successfully challenged in two High Court cases.[3] The policy stated that only two airlines were allowed to operate between state capital cities and major regional airports. For the duration of the policy, the "two airlines" were the government-owned Trans Australia Airlines and the privately-owned Ansett Airlines. This policy was put in place to ensure the safety of the Australian domestic fleet. The lack of competition from other airways prevented Ansett Airlines and Trans Australia airlines from taking of unnecessary risks or shortcuts to produce the cheapest flights on the market which may compromise safety. This was an innovative policy which saw the exclusion of other private airlines from coming into the market. The policy finally fell into due to the world-wide airline deregulations of the 1990s which has since seen many smaller domestic airlines open in Australia.

Policy in the Birth PhaseEdit

The growth of the mode was regulated by the Australian Two Airlines Policy which was a policy between late 1940s to the 1990s of the Australian Federal Government. This policy was implemented with the intention of ensuring safety throughout the Australian Aviation Industry. However, this regulation [4] (which involved policy) prevented the rate of growth within the Australian Aviation Industry due to the lack of competition of other airlines.

Mature Phase of AviationEdit

According to figure 1 the Australia domestic aviation industry is still in the growth phase due to the constant growth from 1985 to 2017. Due to the ever-increasing world and Australia population, it is likely that the industry will not reach maturity for many years until a new faster and cheaper form of transport arrives. With a new popular alternative other than aviation available the demand for aviation will lower and the industry will enter the mature phase.


The potential for the aviation industry to “Lock-in” is not likely. There are always new technologies being developed which promote new opportunities for travelers to get to their destination quicker, easier and more affordably. However, these technologies need to be put through rigorous testing to ensure their safety. These regulations on put some strain on the industry however are necessary to ensure safety.

Opportunities for reinventionEdit

The cost of crude oil has been rising steadily for many years.  The emphasis of a ‘greener’ future due to the harmful effects and limited sources of fossil fuels has led to the market of ‘cleaner’ forms or modes of transport. The rapid growth of technology in the last decade may lead one to think that new technology may only be a few decades away.


The table below shows the number of passengers which travelled domestically in Australia between the years of 1985 to 2017. The line of best fit is calculated using the log function S(t) = K/[1+exp(-b(t-t0)].


 S(t) the number of Australia Domestic passengers at time t

 t is time in years

 t0 in the year in which 0.5K is reached

 K is the saturation level of the life cycle

 b is a coefficient which is estimated in the regression

Table 1: Number of Domestic Passenger in Australia[5]
Passengers S(t) = K/[1+exp(-b(t-t0)]
Year carried (millions) Predicted Passengers (millions)
1985 15 12
1987 15 14
1989 16 17
1991 16 19
1993 17 22
1995 25 25
1997 27 28
1999 28 32
2001 32 35
2003 31 38
2005 39 42
2007 45 45
2009 49 48
2011 54 51
2013 56 53
2015 57 55
2017 59 58
Graph of Australian Domestic Air Travel Passengers Using Statistics from the Australian Bureau of Infrastructure[6]

The graph shows the passengers predicted curve growth and the actually amount of Australian Domestic Air Travellers between the years 1985 and 2017. We can see from the passengers predicted curve a constant rate of growth which indicates aviation industry is in the growth stage of its life cycle. If we imagine the 'S' curve to be superimposed on our data we can see a small inflexion point around the year of 2001. This would indicated the Australian Domestic Air Travel to be half way through its 'S' curve life cycle in the year 2001. The first domestic flight in Australia was in 1922 hence this is ideally when our data should start. However, from the information gathered it was unable to pinpoint the exact time when the Australian domestic aviation industry when from the birth phase to the growth phase due to the limited data between the years 1922 to 1985.

The two-airline policy of the Australian Federal Government from the late 1940s to the 1990s would have slowed down the rate of growth of the industry in the attempt to promote safety for Australian aviation industry. 

The data from 1985 to 2017 shows there is a steady rise in the number of people that have travelled domestically. In 1985 there were 15 million domestic passengers compared to 2017 when there were 59 million passengers which travelled domestically in Australia. This is a 44million passenger increase each year in only 32 years.

The linear regression model used produced ‘R’ of 0.93 which means this model is fairly accurate. This indicates the industry is consistent in terms of year to year performance which shows a strong industry. This is shown in the consistent passenger grow in figure 1.


  1. a b GARCIA, M. (2017). What Flights Used to Cost in the 'Golden Age' of Air Travel. Travel Leisure   
  2. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  3. Australian National Airways Pty Ltd v Commonwealth (No 2) [1946] HCA 10; (1946) 71 CLR 115 (17 April 1946). (n.d.). Retrieved from High Court of Australia:
  4. James, M. (2011, February 2011). Parliament of Australia. Retrieved from
  5. Government, A. (2017). Retrieved from Australian Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics:
  6. Government, A. (2017). Retrieved from Australian Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics: