Mar 2, 2012

Meeting the future aviation needs of Sydney

Today I am releasing an independent report initiated by the Federal and NSW Governments into the future aviation needs of Sydney.

Aviation services are an essential part of a modern economy.  This is particularly the case for Sydney, which is a commercial and financial hub, a major centre for service industries and a major tourist destination.

The study, undertaken by an independent Steering Committee, shows with passenger demand in the Sydney region forecast to more than double by 2035 to 87 million passengers then double again by 2060, a long-term strategy is needed to meet this growth.

The economic consequences of failing to increase capacity include:

  • Australia is forecast to lose $6 billion in GDP by 2035
  • NSW is forecast to be hit hardest of all jurisdictions, losing $2.3 billion in GSP over the same period.

The 3,000-page report makes a range of recommendations for action in three areas: to allow Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport to operate to its full operational capacity, to protect and expand the role of other airports in the Sydney region, and to identify the site for a new airport to meet long-term growth.

There is no doubt there are difficult issues to resolve but the report is clear on the cost of delaying action.

Spare landing and take-off slots are already limited in the peak hours – by 2015 Sydney Airport will be severely constrained at peak times and by around 2030 no new growth will be possible.

The Committee does not support any change to the curfew and also points out that with the airport already close to capacity, increasing the cap in peak hours would only buy as little as a year. 

I have already made it clear that the Federal Government will not make any changes to the current cap or curfew.

We will also maintain the current protections for regional airlines and Bankstown Airport will not be developed as Sydney’s second airport.

Further, I have consistently stated that the Government has ruled out the use of the Badgerys Creek site as a second airport and that remains our position.

The Federal Government will now commence consideration of the Committee’s recommendations.

I thank the Steering Committee for their comprehensive work and detailed consideration of the issues involved.

I look forward to continuing to work with the NSW Government on this important issue.

We are now seeking to establish a joint body with NSW to look at implementing a long-term strategy.

This is a matter of importance for Australia and it needs a bipartisan approach.

The full report is available at www.infrastructure.gov.au