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Review of Sydney Airport Demand Management

The Sydney Airport Demand Management Act 1997 (the Act) and associated legislative instruments establish a framework for the long-term management of air traffic demand at Sydney Airport. The Act, along with the Sydney Airport Slot Management Scheme 2013, Sydney Airport Compliance Scheme 2012 and Sydney Airport Demand Management Regulations 1998 (together, the Legislation), establish a limit of 80 aircraft movements an hour, provide for a slot management scheme, and guarantee access for New South Wales regional services.

Following the Productivity Commission's 2019 Inquiry into the Economic Regulation of Airports, the Australian Government committed to conducting an independent review of Sydney Airport demand management. The review provides an opportunity to revisit existing policies and competing objectives, to ensure the regulatory framework remains fit-for-purpose to meet the needs of the aviation industry, travelers and the local community.

The review was led by Mr Peter Harris AO. Mr Harris formerly served as Chairman of the Productivity Commission and is a former senior executive in the aviation sector.

The review examined the Legislation and its implementation, including:

  • implementation of the movement cap,
  • slot management and;
  • regional access.

The Sydney Airport curfew, noise sharing arrangements and the number of aircraft movements per hour are outside the scope of this review.

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Demand management policies were designed to balance productivity with a range of social, competition and other competing objectives to:

  • maximise the number of flights within the movement cap,
  • manage noise impacts on the local community,
  • maximise passengers and freight,
  • guarantee access to flights from regional areas,
  • provide certainty of slots for incumbent airlines, and
  • encourage competition by making slots available for new entrants.

The aim of the review is to determine if the objectives remain relevant and the scheme is fit-for-purpose, including through:

  • providing for the efficient use of airport infrastructure, while managing the impacts of noise to maintain livability for the Sydney community,
  • encouraging competition and resilience within the industry, and
  • facilitating recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, such as through being responsive to changes and opportunities in the market.

The Review will also inform the remaking of parts of the Legislation that are due to sunset on 1 April 2024. Sunsetting is an important mechanism for the Australian Government to implement policies to reduce red tape, deliver clearer laws, and align existing legislation with current government policy.

On 24 August 2018, the Attorney-General made a declaration to align the sunsetting date for a range of aviation-related legislative instruments—including legislative instruments relating to demand management at Sydney Airport. Unless this Legislation is reviewed and remade, it will cease to have effect.

The Sydney Airport Demand Management Discussion Paper

The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications released the Sydney Airport Demand Management Discussion Paper (The Discussion Paper) PDF: 3689 KB ReadSpeaker as the first step of the Review in November 2020 to seek public comment and prompt discussion.

The Discussion Paper outlines the scope of the review and raises a number of important focus questions that the Australian Government sought views on. The questions do not reflect current Government policy—they were designed to elicit discussion. Current Government policy is reflected in the Legislation.


Virtual consultations with stakeholders were held during November 2020 to capture stakeholder views on the questions and issues presented in the Discussion Paper.

Consultation on the Discussion Paper ensured the review considered current and emerging factors influencing Sydney Airport demand management, including:

  • changes to the aviation industry and demand since the Legislation was introduced—both resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, and other changes to market dynamics,
  • rapid advancements in emerging aviation technologies and quieter aircraft,
  • any changes to community views since the Legislation was introduced, and
  • the anticipated opening of the Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport in 2026.


Submissions on the discussion paper have now closed and the Australian Government will consider what changes, if any, are required to the existing demand management regime at Sydney Airport.

Submissions will be published in full on the Department's website unless you indicated at the time of submission that you would like all or part of your submission to remain in confidence. Any personal information you provided to the Department will be used in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988.

Implementation of any recommendations will include consultation with industry and other Government agencies. Any queries regarding implementation should be directed to: demandmanagement@infrastructure.gov.au.

The Australian Government continues to acknowledge the difficult operating environment currently being experienced by the aviation sector and other stakeholders as a result of COVID-19.

Continue to check the department’s website for updates.

Links to media releases and publications