Sydney plans for future
Australia’s Sydney Airport has launched discussions with stakeholders on a proposal to redesign the airport into two airline alliance-based precincts, each comprising international, domestic and regional services under one roof.
The major redesign, which remains at the concept stage, could be achieved by 2019, the airport operator believes. The redesign would make better use of existing facilities; boost the number aircraft gates and parking spaces; support future terminal expansion; and could also improve traffic flow around the airport, it says.
“This initiative has the potential to transform aviation in New South Wales,” says Kerrie Mather, the airport’s chief executive officer. “First, it would improve Sydney Airport’s attractiveness as a global hub and deliver a better passenger experience every day. Second, as Sydney Airport invests in its future, it would bring with it growth in tourism and business travel which would lead to job creation and contribute to NSW’s economic prosperity.”
Mathers says the move would deliver numerous benefits: “From an airport operations perspective this would reduce aircraft turnaround times, largely eliminate towed main-runway crossings and produce a better environmental outcome through reduced aircraft emissions.”
She adds: “A major priority for Sydney Airport is working with the State Government to improve traffic flow around the airport and to deliver comparable travel times from the central business district to each precinct. We also continue to invest in ground transport facilities and advocate improved public transport services.”
Under the proposal, the current domestic terminals, T2 and T3, would be dedicated to the Qantas Group, including low-cost carrier Jetstar and its international partners. The current international terminal precinct T1 would accommodate Virgin Australia and its international partners. The two airline groups and their partners currently account for 87 percent of all aircraft movements at the airport, the facility’s operator says. Other unaligned international operators would use T1 as they do today.
It has yet to be determined which terminal regional operators, including Tiger, Rex, AeroPelican and Brindabella, would use, but the airport guarantees ongoing access by regional airlines.
The redesign would require minor changes to the Virgin Australia precinct, an expansion of the Qantas precinct and the existing T2 and T3 will need to be connected. It will also include a new Qantas Engineering complex for line maintenance and a new Virgin Australia maintenance base.
“The concept plan clearly involves substantial investment in airport infrastructure by Sydney Airport to meet airline requirements. However, the plan only just announced is subject to extensive consultation and detailed design,” the airport says. Stakeholder consultation will take place throughout 2012, with the proposal to be evaluated as part of the 2014 Master Plan process, is due to start in late 2013.
“We are in the very early stages of consultation with all our stakeholders, including the Federal, state and local governments and other government agencies and the response across the board so far has been extremely positive,” the airport says. The initial concept has been welcomed by Qantas and Virgin Australia.
Sydney Airport drew inspiration from European and North American airports which are similarly structured around airline groupings, including Brussels, Copenhagen and London Heathrow.
The proposal comes ahead of the anticipated release this year of the delayed Joint Study on Aviation Capacity for the Sydney Region, conducted by the New South Wales and Federal governments, evaluating the short- and long-term aviation infrastructure and surface transport requirements for the Sydney region. The study was originally due to be completed in mid-2011, but is now expected for release around March.
The study examines the need for Sydney to have a second airport and evaluates potential sites, as well as the economic implications and surface transport issues. The Federal Government supports development of a second airport for the city.
Airport Authority Hong Kong recommends third runway
Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK) has recommended to the government that it adds a third runway to Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) to ensure it can meet future growth in demand and maintain Hong Kong’s role as a leading regional and international aviation centre.
The recommendation follows a three-month public consultation process last year, which weighed a three-runway system to meet long-term demand against maintaining the existing two-runway system.
Independent analysts at the University of Hong Kong’s Social Sciences Research Centre found that of the 24,242 completed questionnaires received, some 73 percent of respondents supported the three-runway option, 11 percent preferred the two-runway system and 16 percent were neutral. The majority of respondents – 80 percent – agreed or strongly agreed that AAHK should make a decision urgently on the airport’s future expansion plans.
The study found that the primary areas of concern about a third runway were the environmental impact and whether there was enough information in the consultation paper to adequately evaluate the impact of the options.
“While a clear majority of respondents prefer building a third runway, we understand how important it is for us to avoid, minimise, mitigate and compensate for the environmental impact that could result,” says Stanley Hui Hon-chung, AAHK’s chief executive officer.