AN independent report initiated by the Federal and New South Wales Governments into the future aviation needs of Sydney was released last week by Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese.
Overseen by an independent Steering Committee of government and industry experts, the study considered the short, medium and long-term aviation infrastructure and supporting surface transport requirements of the Sydney region.
The study also identified strategies and locations to meet future needs and considered options for the use of Commonwealth-owned land at Badgerys Creek.
The 3,000-page report said that with passenger demand in the Sydney region forecast to more than double by 2035 to 87 million passengers then double again by 2060, a long-term strategy is needed to meet this growth.
It found the economic consequences of failing to increase capacity include a $6 billion loss to Australia's GDP by 2035, with NSW to be hardest hit.
The report makes a range of recommendations for action in three areas: 1) to allow Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport to operate to its full operational capacity; 2) to protect and expand the role of other airports in the Sydney region; and 3) to identify the site for a new airport to meet long-term growth.
Mr Albanese said the Committee did not support any change to the curfew and also pointed out that with the airport already close to capacity, increasing the cap in peak hours would only buy as little as a year.
The Minister said he has already made it clear that the Federal Government will not make any changes to the current cap or curfew.
He also said Bankstown Airport will not be developed as Sydney's second airport and that the government has ruled out the use of the Badgerys Creek site as a second airport, despite the Committee stating that it remains the best site for the development of a supplementary airport within the Sydney basin.
The Federal Government will now commence consideration of the Committee's recommendations and Mr Albanese said he looked forward to continuing to work with the NSW Government.
The Joint Study on Aviation Capacity for the Sydney Region is available from the Department of Infrastructure and Transport website at <http://www.infrastructure.gov.au/>.