Part 4: Activities

Air Transport Program

Through the Air Transport Program (Program 2.4), the department:

  • regulated to support ongoing infrastructure investment at federally leased airports
  • progressed the International Civil Aviation Organization's (ICAO) Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA)
  • progressed key elements of the National Airport Safeguarding Framework
  • progressed consideration of future airspace protection arrangements
  • provided policy advice to support aviation safety
  • maintained legislative governance and reporting requirements for Australian Government aviation safety agencies
  • provided aviation policy advice
  • managed regional and remote aviation access programs
  • engaged in international air services negotiations
  • worked towards implementing the Western Sydney Airport project

The program contributed to four of our purposes:

  • supporting economic growth through transport
  • making travel safer
  • increasing transport access
  • supporting regional development and local communities

Support for aviation infrastructure investment

The department continued work in 2017–18 to ensure airports meet projected growth and operate within a clear and robust regulatory framework. It also ensured aviation regulation supported ongoing infrastructure investment at federally leased airports.

During the year the department facilitated approximately $1 billion of on-airport infrastructure development across the federally leased airports. This included both aviation related infrastructure and a diverse range of non-aviation developments.

The department implements aviation regulation, policies and programs to support future investment in safe, efficient, and environmentally responsible aviation infrastructure. In 2017–18 this involved overseeing:

  • major aviation infrastructure developments
  • airport planning
  • non-aviation development and land use
  • airport insurance compliance
  • airport environment
  • building control regulation

During 2017–18 the department helped grow effective operation of the federally leased airports by:

  • facilitating the approval of masterplans for Archerfield, Darwin, Gold Coast and Parafield airports
  • facilitating approval of major development plans for Bankstown (PolAir Facility), Darwin (Air Traffic Control Tower) and Jandakot (Western Power Depot) airports
  • participating in planning coordination forums with airports, state and local governments at all major capital city airports
  • participating in community aviation consultation groups facilitated by 19 federally leased airports
  • ensuring all airports complied with the airport insurance requirements of their lease
  • ensuring airport sites complied with their environmental obligations in accordance with the Airport Environmental Regulations and the airport lease requirements
  • ensuring there were no major breaches of the Airport (Building Control) Regulations 1996

Melbourne Airport Third Runway Project

The department is progressing the necessary land acquisitions and managing the broader implications of the Third Runway Project at Melbourne Airport. With the exception of state and council owned road parcels, the department finalised some of the acquisition processes and lease backs to the airport as part of an additional airport lease. Finalisation of the land acquisition process is underway in consultation with Department of Finance.

Melbourne Airport submitted an exposure draft major development plan for the department's consideration, which was reviewed and returned to the airport with feedback ahead of public consultation in December 2018.

We administered $0.5 million in special account expenses for Melbourne Airport's new runway land acquisition in 2017–18. Estimated expenditure was $9.8 million. A variance of $9.3 million was due to the acquisition of land from Melbourne Airport for no payment, with remaining acquisitions expected to occur in 2018–19.

Airspace protection arrangements

The department progressed a number of future airspace protection policy proposals through government and industry stakeholder consultations in 2017–18. These are designed to improve the safety and efficiency of airport operations at Australia's major airports, and provide better on-and-off airport planning.

The timing for progressing potential regulatory changes was deferred until 2018–19 for:

  • major airport communications
  • navigation and surveillance facilities
  • aircraft operations beyond aerodromes airspace protection

This is to allow regulatory changes to be synchronised with possible amendments to other airports' regulations. It is part of the sunsetting review and other Civil Aviation Safety Authority regulatory reform priorities.

International Civil Aviation Organization—contribution

The department makes a significant technical and leadership contribution to the International Civil Aviation Organization's (ICAO) major work and meetings. In 2017–18 our officials were involved in more than 55 committees, panels and study groups, including those dealing with:

  • air transport regulation
  • aerodromes
  • air traffic requirements and performance
  • dangerous goods
  • flight operations
  • separation and safety
  • security and facilitation
  • remotely piloted aircraft systems
  • aircraft accident investigation
  • environmental issues

ICAO assessed Australia's safety oversight arrangements and increased our effective implementation score from 85.05% to 94.98%. This ranking increases our influence as a member state within ICAO and as a member of the council, ICAO's governing body. It allows us to continue guiding and influencing activities to improve international civil aviation standards and practices.

The department administered $2.2 million as the Australian Government's contribution to ICAO in 2017–18. Estimated expenditure was $2.1 million. The variance of $100,000 was due to fluctuations in the international exchange rate.

Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation

The department worked through a cross-agency and industry working group to progress the technical elements of ICAO's Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA).

The group met four times during the year. The department ensured that Australia's international aviation operators were able to meet their commitments to reduce CO2 emissions under CORSIA, while not being disadvantaged by international competitors.

We are working with the Department of the Environment and Energy, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Clean Energy Regulator to implement the scheme in Australia. These agencies are also collaborating on Australia's approach to managing carbon emissions from international aviation.

Australia seeks to reduce emissions from domestic aviation through the Emission Reduction Fund and its safeguard mechanism administered by the Department of the Environment and Energy. We also advise on measures to reduce carbon emissions in domestic aviation. The outcomes of these were reported in an update to Australia's State Action Plan, which was published in October 2017.

Driving growth-Western Sydney Airport

Set to open in 2026, Western Sydney Airport is a transformational infrastructure project that will:

  • generate economic activity
  • provide employment opportunities closer to home for people in the Western Sydney region
  • meet Sydney's growing aviation needs
Economic growth The business case shows that the project would deliver in excess of $11 billion to the national economy
Jobs The airport is expected to support almost 28,000 direct and indirect jobs by 2031, five years after the facility opens
Project timing Anticipated start date: 2018–19
Anticipated completion: 2026

WSA Co establishment

In August 2017 the government established WSA Co as its business enterprise to design, construct and operate Western Sydney Airport. This included establishing the business name and trademark registrations, setting-up an office, developing corporate governance documentation, and facilitating appointment of WSA Co's board.

WSA Co's project deed was executed in October 2017 and requires the entity to construct the airport in accordance with the government's requirements. WSA Co is now progressing project planning and development in line with the terms of its agreement with the Australian Government. WSA Co has taken forward planning work completed by the department, and has submitted to the Commonwealth for approval a site layout and its plan for the airport. WSA Co has also submitted a range of other deliverables required by the project deed.

WSA Co developed its first corporate plan in 2017–18 which sets out its:

  • key objectives and priorities for the project
  • planning activities that are underway
  • progress made since its establishment in August 2017

Preparatory and enabling activities

An airport lease was granted to WSA Co for the Western Sydney Airport site on 17 May 2018. From this date WSA Co has been responsible for managing the airport site.

Throughout 2017–18 the department carried out preparatory and enabling activities at the site, including:

  • demolishing vacant structures
  • work to relocate the cemetery
  • preparing a bushfire risk management plan
  • undertaking further geotechnical investigations
  • completing various site surveys

A TransGrid Relocation Plan (TRP) was approved on 15 December 2017. Under the TRP, TransGrid is relocating 3.2 kilometres of high-voltage above-ground 330kV transmission line from its current route through the Western Sydney Airport site, to an underground cable route along the perimeter. The works include underground transition points, access roads and watercourse crossing structures. The relocation has a planned completion date of mid-2019.

The department is also collaborating with Airservices Australia to develop a detailed forward work program. This includes preparing project management documents, clarifying resourcing requirements and identifying key works required to supplement the technical design of airspace arrangements, flight paths and relevant aircraft operational procedures.

Planning for surface transport connections

The department is working to ensure surface transport connections to the airport site are based on well informed advice, and deliver the right outcomes. Good road and rail links will allow the airport to realise its full economic potential.

The Australian and NSW governments are well on the way to constructing new and upgraded roads around the airport under the $3.6 billion Western Sydney Infrastructure Plan. A key focus for 2017–18 was ensuring all necessary planning and governance structures were established across all levels of government for the delivery of infrastructure in and around the airport site.

Option assessments and feasibility designs for a long-term rail network to support Western Sydney were undertaken throughout 2017–18. This culminated in the joint Western Sydney Rail Needs Scoping Study that contributed to the Australian and NSW governments' joint commitment to a North South Rail Link from Schofields to Macarthur. Our work with NSW Government officials was a good example of collaboration across jurisdictions to understand infrastructure needs that will deliver improved transport outcomes. The first stage of this network will connect St Marys to the Western Sydney Aerotropolis via the Western Sydney Airport. The aim is to have rail operational when the airport opens in 2026.

The Australian and NSW governments, together with eight local governments of Western Sydney, signed the Western Sydney City Deal on 4 March 2018. This is a 20 year agreement between the three levels of government to deliver a once-in-a-generation transformation of Sydney's outer west and to create the ‘Western Parkland City’. Improving connectivity through innovative public transport and digital infrastructure is a focus of the Western Sydney City Deal.

Managing environmental obligations and Airport Plan conditions

To manage environmental obligations for the airport in 2017–18, both the airport-lessee company, WSA Co, and the department are implementing more than 40 conditions placed on the Western Sydney Airport's construction and operation. The department is investing around $180 million in conservation and biodiversity activities. This includes protecting a 117-hectare environmental conservation zone along the airport's boundary with Badgerys Creek.

Some outcomes, like the Western Sydney Airport Aviation Fuel Supply Corridor Options Report and moving cemeteries from the airport site, are now complete. Progress on other conditions includes:

  • developing a Biodiversity Offset Delivery Plan to balance the loss of biodiversity for the Stage 1 development of Western Sydney Airport. This will set the framework for the Australian Government's investment in biodiversity offset activities to conserve threatened species and ecological communities in Western Sydney. A biodiversity experts group, with qualified and experienced biodiversity and ecology experts, has informed development of the plan
  • delivering a Threatened Flora Propagation Program. Mount Annan Botanic Garden has started collecting seed and propagating threatened species found on the airport site
  • contributing a further $1 million in May 2018 towards a $10 million agreement with Greening Australia. This will support the region's Native Seed Production Area Program that focuses on the Cumberland Plain. The program aims to future-proof seed supply to support conservation replanting programs. Our funding contributions will enhance Greening Australia's seed-processing facility and the infrastructure and machinery required to manage an increased footprint for the supply of seed
  • establishing an Aboriginal cultural heritage program to facilitate early consultation with Aboriginal stakeholders, including on an initial survey and salvage program under an approved plan
  • advancing planning for the airspace design process for Stage 1 airport operations. Forum On Western Sydney Airport (FOWSA) and an aviation expert steering group have been established. Planning has also been progressed to confirm Sydney basin airspace requirements and constraints

Community engagement

The department continued engaging with key stakeholders across all levels of government, the community and industry during the year to:

  • build wider confidence in the Australian Government's decisions
  • ensure stakeholders and the community were kept up to date on the Western Sydney Airport project's progress
  • keep stakeholders informed of opportunities that will result from the airport

Our information platforms include:

  • quarterly community update newsletters
  • a project website
  • an information hotline and email inbox
  • an email subscription service for receiving project updates
  • an online noise modelling tool and Obstacle Limitation Surface (OLS) tool
  • information sessions
  • a rolling program of pop-up stalls at community events and local venues

Throughout 2017–18 we:

  • talked to more than 3,100 people at 23 pop-up stalls and information sessions across Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains
  • met with Western Sydney and Blue Mountains councils
  • updated key stakeholders at numerous meetings
  • delivered a quarterly community update newsletter to households near the airport site. In August 2017, distribution was expanded from 10,000 to approximately 40,000 households. Hardcopies of the newsletter were also sent to Western Sydney councils and libraries
  • facilitated four FOWSA meetings (the key community consultation group for Western Sydney Airport), including a public meeting and a series of drop-in information sessions to promote informed and responsive engagement on issues relating to the airport

Western Sydney City Deal

The landmark Western Sydney City Deal was signed on 4 March 2018. This is a 20-year agreement between the Australian, New South Wales and eight local governments in Western Sydney. It is designed to stimulate new jobs and a new level of education and services for the region. It builds on the Australian Government's $5.3 billion commitment to Western Sydney Airport.

The Western Sydney City Deal was developed through regular collaboration during 2017–18 between the three levels of government. Delivery will be overseen through a formal, long-term governance structure that includes representatives from the City Deal partners, including the eight local governments: Blue Mountains, Camden, Campbelltown, Fairfield, Hawkesbury, Liverpool, Penrith and Wollondilly.

The City Deal will deliver:

  • a centrepiece commitment from the Australian and NSW governments to deliver the first stage of Western Sydney Rail, a North–South Rail Link from St Marys to Badgerys Creek Aerotropolis via Western Sydney Airport
  • new science, technology, engineering and mathematics-focused education facilities
  • a Western Sydney investment attraction office and a Western Sydney Development Authority
  • a $30 million Western Parkland City housing package
  • a $150 million liveability program to deliver better community facilities and urban amenity

Western Sydney Airport—site management

In 2017–18 the department administered $1.3 million for Western Sydney Airport site management (administered expense item in the Portfolio Budget Statements 2017–18 referred to as the Sydney West Airport—site management program). These funds were used for site support costs and expenses related to demolishing vacant structures, removing rubbish, implementing bushfire mitigation measures, relocating cemeteries, providing utilities, and security patrols. A key step was relocating the Badgerys Creek Anglican and Uniting Church cemeteries to the Badgerys Creek Memorial Cemetery at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in late 2017. Together the site management activities enabled the department to provide the airport site to WSA Co in May 2018.

Driving growth in international airline activity

The department engaged strategically throughout 2017–18 with important markets to drive growth in international airline activity.

In December 2017 the department participated in the Air Services Negotiations Conference (ICAN 2017) in Colombo, organised by the ICAO. This included formal air services negotiations and informal discussions with 20 economies.

General Aviation

In May the General Aviation (GA) Advisory Group—an industry-led initiative that advises the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport on issues related to general aviation—finalised its GA Flight Plan, the group's 2018–19 work plan for the sector. The plan takes into account the challenges and opportunities for the sector highlighted in the BITRE General Aviation study released in December 2017. Both the plan and the BITRE study are available on the department's website, as is the Minister's response to the plan's release.

The plan's three major priorities are:

  • articulating a long-term strategic outlook for general aviation in Australia
  • considering stakeholder views on how air safety regulation can support general aviation through consistent and proportionally responsive administration
  • enhancing general aviation industry capability through better workforce planning and access to airspace and infrastructure

The department will help facilitate the group's consideration of these priorities during 2018–19.

National Airports Safeguarding Advisory Group

The National Airports Safeguarding Advisory Group (NASAG) includes representatives of:

  • Australian, state and territory government planning and transport officials
  • the Department of Defence
  • the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA)
  • Airservices Australia
  • the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA)

The group developed the National Airports Safeguarding Framework as a national land use planning initiative to:

  • minimise aircraft noise-sensitive developments near airports and improve community amenity
  • improve safety by ensuring aviation safety requirements are recognised in land use planning decisions. This includes guidelines on various safety-related issues to be adopted by jurisdictions

In 2017–18 the department worked with NASAG to progress key elements of the framework, and to develop and implement a nationally consistent risk-based approach to public safety zone guidance for airports. The draft new Guideline 1 (Managing the Risk in Public Safety Zones at the Ends of Runways) underwent targeted industry consultation in October 2017 followed by public consultation from May until July 2018.

We also worked with NASAG members to develop guidance on protecting strategically important Helicopter Landing Sites (Guideline H) and to update Guideline B (Managing the Risk of Building Generated Windshear and Turbulence at Airports) to better reflect world's best practice.

Public consultation on these guidelines was conducted in September and October 2017. Transport and Infrastructure Council ministers endorsed the guidelines on 18 May 2018. This will help improve protection of strategic helicopter landing sites from inappropriate development and address the impacts of building induced windshear and turbulence at airports.

Policy advice to enhance aviation safety and technology

The department provided policy advice on a range of safety-related issues during the year. This included:

  • progressing CASA implementation of agreed outcomes from the policy review of aviation rescue and firefighting services. The department provided instructions to develop draft regulations for industry and public consultation in 2017–18
  • establishing a Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) network with other government agencies to develop a coordinated approach and advice to government on RPAS issues, and to share information and ideas related to RPAS operations
  • civil and military air traffic management harmonisation
  • the potential application of Satellite Based Augmentation Systems (SBAS) to aviation and other modes of transport

In 2017–18 the department worked with CASA on the passage of Civil Aviation Safety Regulations, which relate to fuel and oil requirements for aircraft. Proposed regulatory amendments to self-administered organisations, flight operations and aerodrome safety regulations were considered.

Effective governance of aviation safety agencies

During the year the department provided governance advice on:

  • CASA
  • Airservices
  • appointments to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau board and commission
  • corporate plans
  • operational and financial performance reporting, including dividend recommendations related to Airservices Australia

Policy advice to enhance industry competitiveness

Informed and considered policy advice was provided to the Australian Government on access to the Australian domestic and international aviation markets, and options to increase transport connectivity in this context.

In providing this advice, the department ensures businesses and consumers have access to competitive, sustainable international and domestic air services, in line with market requirements.

This included advice on a range of issues impacting regional aviation and the commercial challenges associated with the sector, as well as options and opportunities to further refine the government's policy approach when negotiating air service arrangements.

International aviation agreements

Secured 12 new and updated air services arrangements, including Morocco, Kazakhstan and Greece.

The department aims to ensure businesses and consumers have access to competitive international air services in line with market requirements. During the year work continued with Australia's bilateral partners to negotiate new—and liberalise existing—air services agreements.

In 2017–18 the department also settled new or updated air services arrangements with 12 countries. New air services arrangements were established with Morocco, the Bahamas, Kazakhstan and Namibia. Revised air services arrangements were settled with India, Chile, Malaysia, Italy, Greece, Finland, Azerbaijan and Seychelles. The arrangements will provide opportunities for both Australian and foreign airlines and improve air connectivity with these countries.

A regulatory framework that promotes aviation competitiveness

A key priority in 2017–18 was managing the sunsetting of aviation related legislative instruments. This ensures the industry operates within a clear and robust regulatory framework that promotes competition and balances the interests of relevant stakeholders. Work was progressed to remake legislative instruments associated with carriers' liability and insurance, and other sunsetting parts of the broader aviation economic regulatory framework were reviewed.

An effective regulatory framework for carriers' liability and insurance is important to ensure the interests of passengers and airlines are balanced in the context of compensation payments for accidents.

The department undertook several extensive rounds of stakeholder consultation to seek feedback on the current regulations, and how these could be improved. The aim is to provide an efficient and effective framework for industry to operate within: this feedback will help inform revisions to the regulations.

Support for regional and remote aviation

The department provides targeted support for aerodrome infrastructure and air services to remote areas where they are not commercially viable. This is achieved through government programs that support regional and remote aviation access.

Payment scheme for Airservices Australia's en route charges

Eligible aeromedical providers and commercial airlines that provide services to regional communities can be reimbursed for en route air traffic control charges. Airservices Australia's Enroute Charges Payment Scheme makes it possible for small regional airlines to fly to more destinations and makes regional airfares more affordable.

In 2017–18 the department administered $1.6 million through the scheme. Estimated expenditure for the program was $2.0 million. The scheme is demand-driven and the value of payments reflects the level of claims.

Regional Aviation Access

The Regional Aviation Access Program (RAAP) funds remote airstrip upgrades, remote aerodrome inspections and subsidises essential weekly air services to remote communities.

In 2017–18, the department administered $23.0 million through the scheme. Estimated expenditure for the program was $23.1 million. The variation of approximately $50,000 was due to a significant wet season in northern Australia which delayed infrastructure upgrade works.

Airport Lessee Companies—reimbursement of parking fines

In 2017–18 the department administered partial reimbursement of parking fines to airport lessee companies under the Parking Infringement Notices Scheme. A total of $1.0 million was administered through the scheme: estimated expenditure for the program was $1.0 million. The value of the reimbursements and the cost of the program is driven by the number and dollar amount of fines collected by participating airports.

Hobart Airport runway extensions—contribution

The Australian Government committed $38 million to Hobart Airport in 2014 to extend the runway by up to 500 metres. The extension is part of a package of assistance from the Australian Government to support Tasmania's economy. Major project works were completed in February 2018.

In 2017–18 the department administered $13.2 million for the project, which was completed in June. Estimated expenditure for the contribution was $13.2 million.

Summary of expenses

For a summary of expenses please refer to Air Transport Program (Program 2.4) at Appendix A.

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Last Updated: 12 November, 2018