The experience of passengers travelling through Sydney Airport is set to be improved with the Federal Government’s demand management reforms, designed to boost efficiency and competition at the international gateway airport.

The Federal Government’s demand management scheme followed an expert report and industry consultation overseen by former Productivity Commission Chair, Mr Peter Harris AO, and represents the first enhancements in 27 years to the rules that govern how Sydney Airport operates.

The changes will provide increased transparency around how landing slots are allocated and used by airlines, including reasons for cancellations and delays.

New, independent audits of slot usage will form part of a modernised compliance regime, aligned to international standards.

Passengers will benefit from the implementation of a recovery period following weather disruptions and continued connectivity for regional communities.

The recovery period will temporarily allow up to 85 movements an hour for two hours – an increase from the usual 80 – following weather disruptions to permit delayed services to depart on the same day, meaning fewer overnight stays and less cancellations.

Sydney Airport’s CEO, Scott Charlton, said: “I would like to thank Minister Catherine King and the Federal Government for staying the course on the Harris Review and bringing forward these really practical and sensible improvements to the rules that govern how Sydney Airport operates.

“These changes will promote competition and efficiency by ensuring landing slots are used as they are intended.

“Importantly, the more than 40 million passengers that come through Sydney Airport annually also stand to benefit from these reforms.”

Mr Charlton said that Sydney Airport is the biggest hub in Australia’s aviation network, so when disruptions occur, the whole system is severely impacted.

“Every year we have examples of where a two-hour weather disruption leads to dozens if not hundreds of domestic cancellations and the impacts are still being felt days later.

“For example, on the first Friday of the July school holidays in 2023, we had 150 weather-related cancellations, with a further 40 on each of Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Most of the cancellations across the weekend and into Monday were a consequence of Friday’s disruption as the flight cap worked against airlines recovering their schedules.”

Mr Charlton said that recent storm activity of around 45 minutes led to 50 domestic services being cancelled.

“In the future, with a recovery mechanism, hopefully it won’t be necessary for the airlines to cancel these flights, which is a great outcome for passengers and a great outcome for the efficiency and resilience of Sydney Airport overall.

“We also recognise the importance of regional communities’ access to Sydney Airport, which will be preserved through these changes.

“We’re looking forward to working with the government to implement these reforms and realise their benefits as quickly as possible.”

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