The government has granted approval for Sydney Airport to use the shortest of its three runways to store grounded aircraft.
The east-way runway will now double its capacity to accommodate 50 planes. Traditionally, the strip accounts for less than one in 10 take-off and landings and is used during bad weather or under noise-sharing arrangements.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said, “This measure begins next Wednesday and is a safe and practical response to the significant demand for aircraft parking from domestic and international airlines.
“The continued movement of essential workers, medical supplies and agricultural exports are uninterrupted with the airport’s primary north-south parallel runways remaining operational.”
The move is a temporary measure and was made in consultation with Airservices Australia and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
Sydney Airport aims to resume normal operations when the aircraft can be accommodated in normal parking bays.
It’s currently estimated that Qantas and Jetstar have grounded 200 of their 316 aircraft, and Virgin and Tigerair 105.
However, a handful of those are likely to return to service, after the government finalised a deal with Qantas and Virgin to underwrite a minimum domestic network, to the value of $165 million.
The services will cover all capital cities and begin to roll out immediately before being reviewed in eight weeks’ time.
It means the number of passenger flights operated by the Qantas Group will increase from 105 to 164 per week; while Virgin will shift from running only Sydney-Melbourne services to now flying 64 return services.