Overseas airlines will dump Australia without urgent reform: Sydney Airport

Sydney Airport is calling for an urgent review of flight path operations across the city as the country's biggest hub looks to head off competition posed by Sydney's second international airport, which comes online from 2026. ADAM BISHOP reports.

SYDNEY Airport believes airlines may choose to abandon flying to Australia altogether if the flow of international traffic is restricted in the early morning by planned changes to curfew rules.

The claim was contained in a submission from Australia’s largest hub to a draft assessment of Western Sydney Airport flight paths on the environment, with Sydney Airport using the forum to prosecute its case that proposed changes around curfews need to be jettisoned.

In a preview of the potential friction that may exist between the two Sydney airports once WSI opens in 2026, Sydney Airport argued that limiting the shoulder period between 5-6am in particular would prevent key international services from landing in Sydney, such as those from London in the northern summer

“Permitting aircraft movements at Sydney Airport during the curfew shoulder periods is vitally important for airlines, the travelling
public, and the Australian economy.

“In particular, they enable airlines to schedule flights in a way that ensures their international networks function effectively, especially where there are differing daylight savings time periods that mean scheduling flexibility is crucial to the functioning of global aviation.”

“Preventing those flights from doing so would cause significant disruptions for those airlines and the travelling public,” Sydney Airport stated, adding that if the flights were unable to land at Mascot, they will not automatically go to Western International Sydney Airport, as airlines may instead choose not to fly to Australia.

Under Section 12(4)(b)(ii) of the Curfew Act, when the 24-hour Western International Sydney Airport opens, all flexibility for use of the shoulder periods at Sydney Airport for international services will cease, a shift that Sydney Airport claims was not made clear before the middle of last year.

“Sydney Airport is concerned that the proposed flight paths for Western International Sydney Airport will now require changes to the flight paths for Sydney Airport, this is despite the Sydney Airport Community Forum being assured they would not,” Sydney Airport said.

“The current proposal misses an opportunity to review an already outdated airspace and regulatory regime, which should be driven by the objectives of concurrently improving outcomes for the passengers of, and the broader community around, airports in the Sydney basin.”

The submission also contended it would be detrimental to Sydney Airport and its stakeholders if the implementation of modern air navigation technologies at Western Sydney International Airport are not equally applied at Mascot.

Outside of seeking to scrap moves to eliminate flexibility around curfew times, Sydney Airport is also calling for urgent reform of the well documented issues around slot management at Sydney, which often blocks competitor carriers from accessing the hub.

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