Time for a common sense solution to end Sydney Airport chaos

The stringent and outdated operating restrictions which have exacerbated the chaos at Sydney Airport twice in the past week must be immediately reviewed in order to give airlines the flexibility to recover quickly when exceptional circumstances lead to mass delays and disruption to the national aviation network, the Tourism & Transport Forum Australia (TTF) said today.

TTF Chief Executive Margy Osmond said that under the current restrictions in place at Sydney Airport, airlines and passengers across Australia are unnecessarily at the mercy of unforeseen events such as severe weather or technical glitches.

“With thousands and thousands of passengers yet again stranded at airports all over Australia this morning as a result of a major technical problem outside the airport’s control, the Federal Government and Opposition must together take a stand and commit to badly needed reform of the current constraints,” Ms Osmond said.

“Not only have these recent massive delays impacted flights along the eastern seaboard, but the problems have been compounded because Sydney’s movement restrictions prevent airlines from effectively recovering their schedules, causing knock-on delays to flights around the country.

“It’s time common sense prevailed. Australia can’t keep grinding to a halt every time there is a problem at Sydney Airport.

“There is a clear problem and an obvious solution, but airline industry, air travellers and freight customers are being held hostage by a lack of political will.”

Ms Osmond said TTF is calling on the Federal Government to abolish the requirement to measure aircraft movements every 15 minutes, limiting total arrivals and departures to 20 every quarter hour, and to provide further operating flexibility by increasing movement caps from the current 80 to at least 85 per hour in exceptional circumstances to help airlines recover from major delays.

“It is absolutely critical there is some flexibility built into Sydney Airport’s stringent operating restrictions so the entire eastern seaboard isn’t severely and unnecessarily impacted when issues arise,” Ms Osmond said.

“We can’t keep having this debate every time there is an issue. It’s time for action on the crippling constraints that continue to shut down our national aviation network and impact the national economy.”