By Tony Moore
AirTrain is banking on Brisbane’s peak-hour traffic congestion to convince travellers to stick with rail travel after this week’s introduction of SkyBus services to Brisbane Airport.
SkyBus began running services between the Brisbane Airport and the CBD every two hours this week, with plans to drastically increase the frequency.
The privately-owned AirTrain runs a direct link to the CityTrain network.
AirTrain chief executive Chris Basche said, unlike taxis, ride-share providers and the new bus service, the train would not be impacted by Brisbane’s traffic congestion.
Mr Basche said AirTrain saw no need to reduce its fare, or engage in an “airport fare war”, to compete with SkyBus’ $15 one-way fare to and from the airport.
“Our fares are the same as SkyBus,” he said.
“If you book online, they are exactly the same. AirTrain is a journey that takes only 20 minutes to get into the city and we are every 15 minutes, so from that point of view, it stands up for itself.”
Using a Go Card, however, an AirTrain trip between the CBD and Brisbane Airport costs $19.50 — 30 per cent more than the SkyBus.
Mr Basche said travellers between the airport and the CBD would be influenced by Brisbane’s peak-hour traffic congestion.
“AirTrain is the only way to get in and out of train and rise above the traffic,” he said.
“The traffic congestion in the city has been really poor lately and we think AirTrain’s product stands us on its own.
“We are fast, frequent and very reliable and you avoid traffic congestion.”
SkyBus head of operations Matthew Carney said the company planned to eventually move towards a 15-minute frequency over the course of its initial seven-year contract with Brisbane Airport.
SkyBus has taken the Brisbane Airport to Brisbane CBD hotel shuttle service that was previously provided by the charter bus company Con-X-ion.
Mr Basche said AirTrain had noticed aircraft passenger number increasing and the correlating increase of passengers using its service.
Brisbane Airport Corporation data shows passenger numbers grew to 922,549 for April 2021, a 984 per cent increase over the previous April, at the height of the COVID-19 lockdowns.
“AirTrain is hopeful the passenger numbers continue to recover, and we’re confident May 2021 will be the [airport’s] first million-passenger-month since COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic,” Mr Basche said.
“We are ready to help those passengers get to the airport in only 20 minutes from the city centre with 100 train services every weekday.
“I know today the AirTrain is certainly pumping with people heading for the rugby league Magic Round and the truck show.”