Reforms to restrictions needed to boost productivity and grow economy
Inflexible restrictions at Australia’s busiest airport are impeding the efficient operation of our domestic aviation network and having a significant impact on the nation’s productivity, according to new research released today by the Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF).
TTF CEO Margy Osmond said the report, Connecting the Dots: Enhancing our National Aviation Network, recommended a series of reforms to improve the operating capacity and efficiency of Sydney Airport.
The reforms would deliver significant benefit to productivity and to the national economy, while managing the impact of aircraft noise on local communities.
“The rigid and outdated operating restrictions at Sydney Airport must be immediately reviewed in order to allow the national aviation network to be more flexible and recover quickly when exceptional circumstances, such as significant weather events, lead to delays and disruptions,” Ms Osmond said.
The report shows that in 2017, Sydney Airport facilitated around 43 million passenger journeys – including 27.3 million domestic trips and 16 million international trips – making up 27 per cent of the national total.
Melbourne and Brisbane airports were our second and third-busiest airports with 35.3 million and 22.9 million passenger journeys, respectively. This is not surprising given that Sydney/Melbourne is the world’s second busiest airline route with Sydney/Brisbane also in the top ten busiest routes.
According to growth forecasts included in Sydney Airport’s upcoming masterplan, passenger journeys are expected to reach 65.6 million in 2039.
“While the announcement of the new Western Sydney airport was very much welcomed by the industry, both leisure and business travellers will in the interim continue to be inconvenienced by delays caused by unforeseen events such as severe weather or aircraft issues,” Ms Osmond said.
“The current cap on aircraft movements at Sydney Airport can’t be viewed in isolation.
“This is a national issue and the restrictions must be reviewed in the context of their impact on the entire network and the capacity for our aviation sector to operate efficiently and support our growing national economy.
“It is high time that reforms are considered for the benefit of airline passengers.”
TTF is calling on policymakers to implement a range of recommendations including:
▪ Replacing the separate hourly caps on slots and aircraft movements with a single cap on scheduled movements;
▪ Eliminating the 60-minute regulated hour, or ‘rolling hour’, which recommences every 15 minutes and is used to measure airline compliance with Sydney Airport’s aircraft movement constraints;
▪ Allowing movement numbers to increase above 80 per hour without increasing the slot cap or overall number of movements in any given day. This would help relieve flight backlogs and enable airlines to restore national schedule integrity following instances of major weather disruption, technical issues, late inbound aircraft, infrastructure failure or other significant incidents; and
▪ Consider removing specific regulations regarding regional air services, to provide airlines with the ability to use any slot held at Sydney Airport to operate either a regional or non-regional service, as is the case at all other airports across Australia.
Ms Osmond said it was time for sensible reforms to be considered for the benefit of both travellers and the national economy.
“Action must be now taken,” she said.
“Through this report, we are calling on the Commonwealth Government and Opposition to take a stand together and commit to these badly needed reforms.”