The NSW government has begun lobbying federal ministers to lift the hourly movement cap at Sydney Airport during peak periods.
NSW deputy premier and minister for tourism Andrew Stoner says he has spoken to federal minister for trade and development Andrew Robb and infrastructure minister Warren Truss regarding the 80 aircraft movements an hour cap at Kingsford-Smith.
“In both of those gentlemen you have an abounding of common sense,” Stoner told the Tourism & Transport Forum’s outlook conference in Sydney on Friday.
“The early indications I think are fairly good.”
A maximum of 80 aircraft movements per hour are allowed at Kingsford-Smith airport, which is also hamstrung by a curfew between 11pm and 6am.
While Stoner welcomed the move to build a second airport at Badgerys Creek, he said more needed to be done now to improve air services into Sydney.
“When you look at international comparisons on the number of aircraft movements and the distance between aircraft, there’s certainly plenty of scope to have a look at the cap,” Stoner said.
“I would personally urge my federal colleagues to have a good look at the curfew as well.
“I have got plenty of examples of just ridiculous, nonsensical cases that inconveniences not only the industry and its profitability but also the end users, the passengers.”
Etihad Airways chief executive James Hogan, also speaking at the TTF event, said artificial limits such as the cap and curfew were a challenge for airlines.
“We have had situations in the past couple of years where the aircraft has taxied out and due to thunderstorms we have had to hold,” Hogan told the conference.
“When the thunderstorms cleared because we have actually gone into curfew we have had to come back into the terminal and deplane those passengers.
“Other airports in the world in fact you would be given a dispensation to take off.”
In a newspaper column, Truss said a geographically constrained Kingsford-Smith airport would cost the economy “dearly” in terms of economic activity and job opportunities.
“The claim that Sydney’s airport is operating at about two-thirds of its theoretical capacity is true, however, only if movements are averaged across the entire week,” Truss wrote in The Australian newspaper on Friday.
“During the crucial weekday peak periods, there is less than 10 per cent spare capacity available and this will soon be used.”