Australia’s international carriers have come out against any form of airline levy or tax to fund the construction or operation of the proposed airport at Badgerys Creek.
The Board of Airline Representatives of Australia (BARA) said in a position paper published on Friday the Western Sydney airport (WSA) should be funded by the federal government.
“If initial financial assistance is necessary, it should be funded directly from the Australian Government’s consolidated revenue,” the BARA paper said.
“BARA does not support any form of levy on airfares, either during WSA’s construction phase or subsequent operations, which would effectively impose an additional tax on existing passengers.”
“BARA does not support an airport for Western Sydney that requires and relies on ongoing, long-term government financial support (and which drains funds from other services) as a result of its cost base and supporting infrastructure services which exceed commercially viable thresholds for airlines.
Further, the BARA position paper said there was “no merit” in having airline operating restrictions at Sydney Airport to “force” airlines to shift their freight and passenger flights to Badgerys Creek.
“This will only serve to reduce the industry’s overall productivity and commercial viability, ultimately reducing the economic contribution of the aviation infrastructure of NSW and Australia’s main trade and tourism gateway,” BARA said.
“BARA also does not support cross-subsiding the costs of WSA through additional airline charges at KSA.”
BARA, an industry group, represented 32 international airlines that fly into and out of Australia, covering about 90 per cent of all international passenger services. Its members include Australia’s two largest carriers Qantas and Virgin Australia, as well as the likes of Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines and United.
The proposed airport was slated to begin operations in the mid-2020s. Currently, the Department of Infrastructure was reviewing the 5,000 submissions in response to the draft airport plan and environmental impact statement.
The government’s notice of intention, effectively a sales contact, was due to be delivered to the owners and operators of Sydney Airport before the end of 2016.
Sydney Airport has the right of first refusal to build and operate a second airport within 100km of its existing terminals at Mascot.
While the original plan was for Badgerys Creek to operate as a 24-hour airport with no restrictions, both the federal government and opposition have said they planned to have some limits on aircraft movements due to what both say were for noise-related reasons.
The government has asked the Department to redraw some flight paths over the Blue Mountains, while the opposition have spoken of a “no-fly zone” during overnight hours where flight paths for all takeoffs and landings between 2300 and 0600 will be in a south-west direction to avoid residential areas.
“International airlines recognise that there is significant demand for air transport services in Western Sydney. The commercial success of WSA in attracting international flights will, however, depend on the efficiency of critical aviation infrastructure services”, BARA Executive Director Barry Abrams said.
Abrams said having curfew-free operations at Badgerys Creek would maximise the airport’s potential economic and social contribution.
“BARA supports 24-hours a day, seven days a week operations at WSA, offering international airlines wider and more flexible market opportunities,” Abrams said in a statement on Friday.
“The International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) ‘balanced approach’ to aircraft noise mitigation should be applied at WSA and Australian airports more generally.
“WSA’s commercial success, with flow-on benefits for the fast growing region, will fundamentally depend on the ability of industry participants to deliver value to passengers and freight forwarders. There is much that can be done prior to the airport’s opening to unlock its future potential economic and social contribution.”
BARA also reiterated its stance that the jet fuel supply arrangements at Australia’s airports be opened up to more competition.
The full position paper can be read on the BARA website here.