Case Study: Gold Coast Airport

Driving airport choice in South East Queensland

The need for research

Gold Coast Airport (GCA) is owned and operated by Queensland Airports Limited. From humble beginnings as an emergency landing strip in the 1930s to a busy modern day international airport, GCA has continued to grow significantly in passenger movements. GCA would like to continue to grow and increase its market share by becoming the airport of choice for both inbound and outbound passengers in the catchment areas of South East Queensland and Northern NSW areas.

In 2021 QCA undertook an expansion to its southern terminal to better serve its increasing number of passengers. Seeing this as an opportunity to reset, GCA wanted to understand more about how consumers both perceive Gold Coast Airport and how they choose an airport when flying in or out of the catchment area.

In June 2021, GCA selected D&M Research to undertake a foundation study of existing and potential inbound and outbound passengers to develop a strategic plan to maximises its market share and growth now and into the future.

The method

A combination of qualitative (mini-groups) and large-scale quantitative (online) research with past and prospective South East QLD travellers was undertaken. The qualitative research was undertaken to gain a deeper understanding of the context in which passengers fly in and out of QLD, and to provide relevant inputs for the quantitative questionnaire including the drivers of choice in choosing a QLD airport. It also covered current perceptions of GCA and other QLD airports.

The quantitative research was used to quantify the barriers and triggers to using GCA, the drivers of choice for airports in the catchment area to fly in or out (using Max-Diff), and how GCA performs on these drivers against its competitors.

The result

The result was a clear and detailed understanding of air travel into and out of the region including choice behaviours regarding airports. Although it was found in the main that passengers generally don’t choose airports, the research identified clear key drivers where GCA had a competitive advantage that could be used to not only build the idea of choice as an option when visiting the area, but also to win against local competitor airports including Brisbane Airport.