The Board of Airline Representatives of Australia (BARA) has called for more collaboration between airports, government and airlines amid some “early warning signs” the nation’s aviation infrastructure is struggling to handle the growing number of travellers into and out of the country.
At a BARA function in Sydney on Wednesday evening, BARA chairman Leanne Geraghty said although the industry was doing well, indicators such as on-time performance, lost baggage numbers, as well as evidence of longer queues at border processing and incidents of jet fuel rationing, highlighted the stress being placed on Australia’s available aviation capacity.
“Given these challenges, in order to continue success and growth, it will be critical over the next few years that all stakeholders work together to find ways of boosting industry capacity and efficiency to continue to provide safe and high quality services,” said Geraghty, who is Air New Zealand general manager for Australia.
BARA represents 32 international airlines that fly into and out of Australia, covering about 90 per cent of all international passenger services. The body has called for an opening up of Australia’s on-airport jet fuel storage and distribution facilities at major international airports opened up to competition.
Further, BARA believed negotiations with airports over the charges and fees for services provided needed use a “consistent” set of performance data “with agreed capital and operating resources”.
And thirdly, Geraghty said improved integration between the airlines, Airservices and the airports, with the sharing of real time and accurate information, would generate efficiencies in the aircraft turnaround process.
“The future industry needs to be a better integrated one. The tools necessary to achieve this are already available to us,” Geraghty said.
“The challenge, therefore, is to continue to break down the barriers and obstacles faced by different suppliers and get everyone focused on delivering higher quality and more efficient outcomes.
“Like many industries, international aviation faces some considerable infrastructure challenges and collectively we need to continue to drive specific infrastructure improvements.”
Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development Secretary Mike Mrdak, who also spoke at Wednesday night’s BARA function, noted infrastructure capacity issues were a significant concern across the region.
“Throughout this Asia Pacific region, the one big constraint that everyone is worried about is not about the capacity of the aviation industry to create new product, to do marketing or to buy the aircraft for the future, it is actually the physical infrastructure,” Mrdak said.
“Both the airports and also the airways infrastructure is the number one critical constraint for the future of our industry.”
Mrdak has had two new ministers responsible for the Department’s work sworn in following the retirement of Warren Truss, whose previous portfolio of Infrastructure and Regional Development has been split in two with Senator Fiona Nash the new Minister for Regional Development and Darren Chester the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport.
“We have new ministers right across the portfolios, they take time to start to learn and absorb the issues that this industry has to deal with,” Mrdak said.
“But the one thing that I think stands us in good stead in the industry is that there is largely bipartisan support for the policy directions that this industry deals with.
“We’ve had successive Australian governments who have been committed to ongoing liberalisation, committed to a sensible approach where we grow our markets, we grow Australian carrier participation in global markets and we look to ways in which we can get the right balance between the growth of our industry and the growth of the tourist traffic and also Australian travellers out.”
Mrdak reaffirmed previous indications from the government and Sydney Airport that the offer contract for the proposed airport at Badgerys Creek would be released by mid-2016.
“By the middle of this year our intention is to provide essentially what is the terms of offer that the Australian government will provide to the owners of Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport, who have first right of refusal to build and operate the Western Sydney Airport,” Mrdak said.