Brisbane Airport has argued its new $1.1 billion parallel runway has not made aircraft noise pollution worse, and has actually reduced the amount of aircraft that fly over the city’s inner-city suburbs at night.
The newly published report comes in response to growing community anger over apparently excessive noise over the inner-city Brisbane suburbs closest to the airport.
The data states that of all the flights either approaching or departing Brisbane Airport at night in June, just 0.1 per cent flew over the city’s inner suburbs and utilised the airport’s newest runway.
Further, the data suggests that 70 per cent of all night-time flight operations, which occur between 10pm and 6am, were conducted over Moreton Bay, as opposed to the suburbs closest to the airport, in the other direction.
The remaining 29.9 per cent of night flights flew over the suburbs and utilised Brisbane’s existing Legacy runway.
These figures are an improvement upon the data recorded in June 2019, in which just 58 per cent of all Brisbane Airport flights that occurred between 10pm and 6am operated over the bay, leaving 42 per cent flying over the suburbs.
BAC’s report states that overall, 52 per cent of all flights (day or night) to and from the airport in the month of June were operated over the bay, while the remaining 48 per cent of flights flew over the suburbs.
Last month, residents of Brisbane’s inner suburbs protested outside Brisbane Airport Corporation’s head office over “constant” noise pollution due to the new flight paths, which they argue are a direct result of the airport’s newly-opened parallel runway.
Amid their attempt to speak with BAC staff, protestors were ultimately locked out of the BAC building, which only brought more buzz to the situation.
The airport’s new $1.1 billion runway, which runs parallel to its existing runway, opened in May 2020.
According to local Green’s candidate Max Chandler-Mather, residents near the airport were told that the addition of the new parallel runway would see more flights taking off and landing over Moreton Bay, thus reducing current aircraft noise pollution, particularly at night.
However, data reported by BAC’s online Runway Usage dashboard – which reports aircraft movement and direction – suggests this promise has not come to fruition.
BAC’s data dashboard shows that the overall amount of aircraft taking off over the suburbs as opposed to over the bay has remained fairly consistent both before and after the new runway opened for operation, at about 50 per cent each.
Further, it is also highly likely that the impact of COVID-19 lockdowns and travel restrictions are having an impact on fluctuating aircraft noise pollution for residents in Brisbane’s inner suburbs.
Since the secondary runway’s opening in May 2020, the number of aircraft utilising either runway each month has increased by 195 per cent, from 4,130 aircraft movements in May 2020 to over 12,200 in June 2021.
In addition to the recent statistics, BAC announced it will be publishing monthly reports detailing exactly how many flights take off and land over the bay, rather than the city and suburbs, to be published across its social media channels “for easy access by the community”.
BAC executive general manager communications and public affairs, Rachel Crowley, said that publicly releasing monthly reports into current air traffic movements over the bay versus over the city recognised the community interested in the airport’s operations.
“Whilst the social and economic benefits of Brisbane Airport’s operations are enjoyed right across Brisbane and Queensland, we acknowledge the burdens of aircraft noise are carried locally,” she said.
“The new parallel runway system at Brisbane Airport was designed to allow for greater distribution of aircraft movements and increased use of over-the-bay operations compared to the old system, and in line with our commitment to the community, currently 70 per cent of operations between the hours of 10pm and 6am are over the bay.
“We hope this additional monthly runway operations snapshot will give people a better understanding of how the airport operates.”