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Review of Sydney Airport Demand Management

Following the Productivity Commission's 2019 Inquiry into the Economic Regulation of Airports, the Australian Government committed to conducting a comprehensive 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, the travelling public and the local community.

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.

The Review will examine 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.

Diagram showing what is in and out of scope for the demand management review. In scope: slot management, regional access, and movement cap (implementation only). Out of scope; curfew, noise sharing arrangements, and movement cap (number of aircraft movements per hour).

The policies underpinning the Legislation were originally designed to balance productivity with a range of social, competition and other objectives. In doing so, demand management has, to date, embodied a series of competing objectives, including:

  • maximising the number of flights within the movement cap
  • managing noise impacts on the local community
  • maximising passengers and freight
  • guaranteeing access to flights from regional areas
  • providing certainty of slots for incumbent airlines, and
  • encouraging competition through making slots available for new entrants.

The objectives of the Review are to determine whether 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. Under Chapter 3, Part 4 of the Legislation Act 2003, legislative instruments are automatically repealed after a certain period (usually 10 years) after they are made. 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. The instruments are now due to sunset on 1 April 2024. Unless this Legislation is reviewed and remade, it will cease to have effect.

The Review will be led by the industry-respected Mr Peter Harris AO who will provide a report to the Australian Government following consultation and analysis of key issues and reform opportunities. Mr Harris's extensive experience as a senior public servant, a former Chairman of the Productivity Commission and a former senior executive in the aviation sector make him uniquely qualified for this role.

Discussion Paper

The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications has released the Sydney Airport Demand Management Discussion Paper PDF: 3689 KB ReadSpeaker as the first step of the Review. It outlines the scope of the Review and raises a number of important focus questions that the Australian Government is seeking your views on. The questions do not reflect current Government policy—they are designed to elicit discussion and the Paper is released without prejudice. Current Government policy is reflected in the Legislation.

Releasing a Discussion Paper now ensures the Review will take into account 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.

Have your say

The Australian Government is interested in hearing your views on demand management at Sydney Airport—how it is working now, and where you think it could be improved in the future.

Feedback is welcome on all or some of the questions presented in the Discussion Paper, or any other key issues related to Sydney Airport demand management you may wish to raise, being mindful of the scope of the review and noting the ‘related activities’ below.

The Australian Government acknowledges the difficult operating environment currently being experienced by the aviation sector and other stakeholders as a result of COVID-19 and appreciates your time and consideration in responding.

After receiving feedback from all stakeholders, the Australian Government will consider what changes, if any, are required to the existing demand management regime at Sydney Airport.

Written submissions

Written submissions will be accepted until close of business Friday 11 December 2020. Please provide your contact details so the Department can follow up on any issues raised.

The preferred method for receiving submissions is electronically to the email demandmanagement@infrastructure.gov.au.

Alternatively, submissions can be provided in hard copy, addressed to:

Director, Productivity
COVID Aviation Issues Management Division

You may refer to a submission you provided to the Productivity Commission's 2019 Inquiry into the Economic Regulation of Airports, if the contents of that submission remain reflective of your current views regarding the focus questions in the Discussion Paper, rather than making a new submission to this process.

Note that submissions will be published in full on the Department's website unless you indicate that you would like all or part of your submission to remain in confidence. Any personal information you provide to the Department will be used in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988.

Virtual consultations

Virtual consultations with stakeholders will be held during November 2020 to capture stakeholder views on the questions and issues presented in the Discussion Paper. Consultation meetings will be with Mr Peter Harris AO and/or representatives from the Department.

To register your interest in participating in targeted consultation, please email an expression of interest to demandmanagement@infrastructure.gov.au by close of business, Wednesday 11 November 2020.

Related activities

A number of other activities relevant to Sydney Airport and aviation more broadly are currently underway and the Department acknowledges that stakeholders may be interested in multiple activities. The scope, timeframes and processes for these activities, including opportunities for stakeholder engagement, are different across the activities.

The Future of Australia's Aviation Sector Issues Paper: The Australian Government is examining options to further support and strengthen the aviation industry, both to manage the current impacts of the COVID-19 downturn, support the recovery and look at pathways for longer-term reform.

The Department has released the Future of Australia's Aviation Sector Issues Paper to canvass industry and community views on potential policy directions to manage the opportunities and challenges facing the sector.

For further information see the Future of Australia's Aviation Sector Issues Paper.

Regional Aviation Policy Issues Paper: The March 2020 Regional Aviation Policy Issues Paper PDF: 740 KB ReadSpeaker process was deferred from early 2020 due to the COVID-19 crisis. Regional aviation policy issues canvassed through this previous process and the issues paper will also be considered as part of the current Future of Aviation Issues Paper and consultation processes.

National Aviation Policy Issues Paper on Emerging Aviation Technologies: To enable and facilitate the rapid technology advancements in drones and electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicles, the Australian Government has released a National Aviation Policy Issues Paper on Emerging Aviation Technologies for industry and broader stakeholder consultation.

This paper is the first step towards development of a national policy for the management of drones and other emerging aviation technologies.

For further information see Drones and the National Aviation Issues Paper on Emerging Aviation Technologies.

Links to media releases and publications