TTF View – December 2012/January 2013


TTFAirport development crucial to
achieving ‘Tourism 2020’ targets

By John Lee, chief executive, Tourism & Transport Forum


AUSTRALIA has set itself an ambitious target: to grow overnight tourism spending to $140 billion by 2020. Achieving this will require a collaborative approach across the visitor economy.

Investment in key tourism infrastructure projects is needed to continually refresh and update our tourism offering, drive demand and attract robust domestic and international visitor numbers.

Australia will need additional accommodation capacity and a larger, more flexible labour force will be required to provide appropriate levels of service.

However, all this hard work will be for nought if our airports can’t support the projected growth. As gateways for both international and domestic travel, airport expansion and operational flexibility are critical.

Aviation capacity growth is one of the key elements of the Tourism 2020 strategy, demanding a 23-30 per cent increase in domestic aviation capacity and a 40-50 per cent increase in international flights, making airport capacity in our major cities a national priority.

There are a number of key factors at play when considering the future of airport operations: urban planning, infrastructure investment and artificial constraints. Urban planning is an ongoing issue for airports and working co-operatively with the community and industry is critical to successful development.

The recent decision to rezone land from rural to residential at Tralee, NSW, close to Canberra Airport, is one example of government short-sightedness.

It potentially threatens operations at Canberra Airport. Of particular concern is the risk to its curfew-free status. Experience from Australia and around the world shows that residents who live underneath flight paths often campaign successfully to curtail the operations of neighbouring
airports. However, there are examples of airports working with industry groups and the community to their mutual benefit. An innovative and transparent partnership between Brisbane Airport and the Real Estate Institute of Queensland is engaging new technology to notify property buyers and agents about current flights paths and noise levels, in addition to future flight paths and areas of higher aircraft noise.

The partnership, believed to be the first of its kind in Australia, is the result of both organisations’ desire to ensure homebuyers are fully aware of the extent to which a property may be subject to aircraft noise, allowing them to make an informed purchase decision.

The latest forecast from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics is for passenger movements to double by 2030 to almost 280 million per annum. With more than 60 million passengers expected to pass through Melbourne Airport in 2030/31, community consultation is well underway for its long-planned third runway.

The same projections show a 91 per cent increase in airline passengers through Sydney Airport in less than two decades.

While Kingsford Smith can accommodate the forecast growth, having plans in place for a secondary airport will future proof Sydney and deliver increased economic activity.

In the interim, it is essential we remove the hand-brake that is the artificial cap on aircraft movements at Sydney Airport.

It is also vitally important to ensure constraints are not imposed on Brisbane or Melbourne airports and that their curfew-free status is maintained, giving them flexibility in negotiations with international airlines.

TTF View appears quarterly.