MORE AIR ACCESS DESPERATELY NEEDED TO PROMOTE COUNTRY NSW

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

MORE airline slots into Sydney’s Kingsford Smith Airport are desperately needed to further investment in rural and regional NSW, Member for Northern Tablelands and Minister Tourism and Major Events Adam Marshall said today.

Currently, Sydney Airport regulations permit 80 aircraft movements or ‘slots’ each hour, providing a cap on the number of take-offs or landings. Mr Marshall said that rural visitation and investment was suffering under the current “unnecessary and artificial cap”.

“The current model is undoubtedly Sydney-centric and does little to encourage development in regional aviation,” Mr Marshall said.

“The artificial bottle neck cap, which keeps the airport operating well below its real capacity, is costing the NSW economy around $700 million in lost tourism revenue, which is flying into Melbourne and Brisbane.

“It is also stymieing the growth or larger regional routes in NSW and blocking many of our local communities from ever gaining or regaining air access in key times to Sydney.

“If a carrier has an option of filling a slot with a 737-800 to Bali or a Dash-8 to Moree, it leaves them with a simple business decision. They could either sell 174 seats or 36 – and unfortunately the smaller routes far too often miss out.

“This has left airports like Moree with just 4 movements a day, and other like Inverell and Narrabri without a regular air service. This is incredibly disappointing for the community, yet could be partially fixed with through a relatively simple change to law.

“Were the aircraft movement cap extended to 90, or even 100 with a minimum number of smaller flights mandated – regional Australia would immediately see the benefits.

“I strongly urge the Federal Government to reconsider the current cap for the good of rural and regional NSW communities.”

Mr Marshall said that the current limit was anachronistic and not set due to operational constraints.

“Planes today are yet quieter and faster than ever before, yet the movement caps haven’t been shifted to respect that. During the Sydney Olympic Games we saw the temporary increase of slots so we know that it can be done,” he said.

“I’ve been approached by multiple carriers who have made it clear that regional flights are in important and valued part of their business plan – but they need greater scope to carry smaller flights without it impinging on their core business, and better slots to offer desirable options to passengers.

“This would be a mutually beneficial situation for NSW – flights to regional areas would be more available and affordable, carriers could offer flights to more destinations, tourism opportunities would grow across the state and Sydney Airport would generate more revenue.” Mr Marshall concluded.

“Until this is addressed, I fear that communities like Inverell and Narrabri will never get a look in – and we cannot wait nine years for Badgery’s Creek to be built to resolve this issue – the time is now for practical and common sense changes to be made.

“Meanwhile, inland cities like Tamworth will also be denied the genuine airline competition it desperately needs on its route because no other carrier can gain access at Sydney during key times.”

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