Australia's Transport Minister Anthony Albanese released (02-Mar-2012) an independent report initiated by the Federal and NSW governments stating Sydney should receive more flights per hour and host a second airport in the western suburbs. Its findings advocate maintaining the airport's existing 23:00 to 06:00 curfew but argues the cap of 80 flights an hour should be increased in coming years. The study, undertaken by an independent Steering Committee, shows 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. The economic consequences of failing to increase capacity include:
- Australia's forecast loss of AUD6 billion (USD6.5 billion) in GDP by 2035;
- NSW is forecast to be hit hardest of all jurisdictions, losing AUD2.3 billion (USD2.5 billion) in GDP over the same period.
Among several recommendations, the study stated Richmond would provide an immediate market, rather than divert demand from Sydney Airport. According to the report, Richmond is initially likely to attract LCC services to a small number of major domestic destinations and the market is likely to grow over time in line with projected population growth in the region. The Steering Committee recommended the Government initiate action to progressively open RAAF Base Richmond to a level of civil traffic.
In all, the 3000-page report makes a range of recommendations for action in three areas: to allow Sydney Airport to operate to its full operational capacity; to protect and expand the role of other airports in the Sydney region; and, to identify the site for a new airport to meet long-term growth. Sydney Airport welcomed the release of the report and recommendations to maximise efficiency and access to Sydney Airport. [more - original PR - Transport Minister] [more - Original PR - Sydney Airport]