Tamworth to Sydney Airport talks continue

CHANGING outdated legislation and moving larger aircraft to different time slots are among the options being looked at for increasing access to Sydney’s Kingsford Smith Airport.

In a meeting with administration body, Airport Coordination Australia, on Wednesday, Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson flagged solutions to the slot allocation problem on the air route between Tamworth Regional Airport and the state’s capital.

Describing the talks as progressive, Mr Anderson said one of the major problems lies around a regional ring fence, which assures a certain number of Sydney slots are allocated to regional areas.

He said the fence, established in 2003 to conserve the slots held by Ansett Australia when it folded for regional carriers, was now outdated.

“We’ve got to dig in a little bit further and look at what options would be available to bring that up to today’s demands and meet the needs of regional areas,” he said.

“Obviously we will keep talking to the Federal Government on this, they are the ones who change the rules, the guys at Sydney airport only administer the rules.”

The Tamworth MP said among the options discussed was reviewing the type of aircraft utilising particular time slots.

“There is also the opportunity to look at the definition and classification of an aircraft coming in from regional centres. The slot management system looks at international, domestic and regional flights,” he said.

"When you get a large regional jet coming in, it is a lot bigger than a Q400 plane, so we could possibly look at the reclassification of the jet and its capacity of passengers.

“It could not be classed as regional, but as a domestic flight, and that would then free up some regional slots.” 

He said raising the cap on take offs and landings per hour at Sydney airport, from 80 to 85, was an issue still on the table.

“We talked about the 80 movements per hour cap and about morning and evening peak slots,” he said.

“The thing is, the legislation was set up in 1997 under the Sydney Airport Demand Act and there have been several amendments since, but it’s outdated and it’s time to look at the way we are operating, so there is opportunities there to explore it further.” 

The meeting follows talks in Canberra on Monday night with Federal Transport Minister Darren Chester and New England MP Barnaby Joyce.