The NSW government has released proposals to ease congestion at and around Sydney Airport – but immediately had them scuttled by the federal government.
The state government’s suggestion of modestly easing the artificially restrictive movement cap from 80 per hour to 85 and to allow more flights during the curfew shoulder period, the latter having directional and noise limitations to ameliorate noise impacts, would have added longevity to Sydney Airport at a time congestion is severely impairing its efficiency and economic benefit.
The movement capacity adjustments complemented a plan to improve road access to and around the airport.
However, the state-federal ping-pong match seems set to continue with the federal minister for infrastructure and transport rejecting the plan in favour of a second airport.
While Sydney Airport may sit geographically in the middle of state planning territory, federal policy decisions all but override state considerations, something the current federal minister appears to have exercised abruptly again on this occasion despite the common sense proposal from state authorities.
The nexus does nothing to promote the possibility of a true solution at either state or federal levels, with both governments being highly sensitive to the development of a second airport in the Sydney region. In the case of the state government it doesn’t want one at all while the federal politicians continue to favour a site in Sydney’s outskirts.
Airlines remain the pawns in the equation. While they – like Sydney Airports Corporation of course – would welcome a sensible and pragmatic adjustment to the movement cap and curfew at Sydney Airport, industry is pressing hard in unison for Badgerys Creek to be re-considered federally. On this point airlines are pitching at two adversaries. The current federal government abandoned Badgerys Creek in 2009 and at state level they don’t want more politically-antagonistic aviation developments in the Sydney area.
If only as a temporary easing the NSW government has actually come up with something sensible by way of its plan. Without anything at all – which is what’s more likely – the airline industry in Australia and the related economic benefit that comes from aviation will be stymied.