Sydney Airport, the G20 summit and the Max factor
There are some peculiar things being said on all sides of the G20 summit/Sydney Airport row that the patient onlooker ought to treat with scepticism.
One is the Gillard Government’s claim that Sydney would need to park 40 jumbo jets for the duration of the event, which has instead been awarded to Brisbane, for late in 2014, and no doubt, just before the Brisbane river next bursts its banks.
This is a highly dubious figure for jet parking, and suggests that the government now expects massive upsizing to occur compared to previous G20s, which from anecdotal accounts, attract a smaller number of smaller jets, and a dozen or so airliner sized jets, including the ridiculously over-the-top entourage of jets in the case of the POTUS.
Almost none of those aircraft are said to have hung around at previous G20s, but had gone away and parked at other airports, or sometimes in other countries.
In the case of the Brisbane G20 it would not be surprising if a few of the jets get parked at Sydney, in the VIP and corporate jet area, or in the Qantas hard stand areas, or whatever the Qantas areas might be known as by then unless the current trajectory of management excellence is ‘adjusted’.
Apart from the incredibly small numbers of media embedded so to speak in heads of state aircraft, such as our own Reptile 1 BBJ, most of the predicted 3000 media who will attend will come and go on scheduled services. (Print media reporters will be sharing tents at outer suburban campgrounds.)
This predominantly digital media contingent will overwhelmingly travel on regular scheduled services, as will a large part of the official retinues, and would readily fit within a single hour’s worth of scheduled arrivals or departures from Sydney’s international terminal. Or a whole day’s international services in the case of Brisbane, including via domestic flights to Sydney or Melbourne to get flights that are unlikely to yet be be available from Brisbane, although its overseas traffic is growing at a healthy rate.
This supports the angst expressed by the NSW and Victoria governments over Sydney or Melbourne not being chosen.
However where the Gillard Government is right about Sydney Airport’s unfitness to cope is in respect of what happens when a large number of additional special flights, in fact, even less than one dozen of them, elect to arrive and unload, and then several days later, arrive again to load and depart, at busy times of the day and evening, which is increasingly in the case of Sydney, most of the day and the evening.
Never mind parking for a few days, which almost none of the assorted VIP jets are likely to do. Sydney airport today isn’t coping with peak hour demand, and jets are being held on the ground regularly for long intervals because under the rules, movements are shut down if there is a probability that the 80 movement an hour capacity limit will be breached.
This absurd situation, of loaded jets wasting kerosene and stuck between terminal gates and runways is already making Sydney a frustrating city in which to do business, and is like other infrastructure failings, turning the attention of the generators of business travel and economic activity elsewhere, notably Brisbane and Melbourne.
In today’s SMH Sydney Airport’s chairman, Max Moore-Wilton argues that Sydney could handle such a load as the G20 because of its success with the 2000 Olympics. As if. In 2000, Sydney Airport saw just over 25 million passengers, and in 2011 this had reached 36 million passengers and is expected to be well above 38 million for 2012 and is on track to exceed 40 million in 2014.
Moore-Wilton knows how to represent in compelling form the interests of his shareholders. That’s his job. He’s very, very good at it too. But Sydney Airport is also on record saying it is for sale for the right price.
While Moore-Wilton’s commentary is always one to be treated with respect, it is partisan, and lacks the independence and dare I say it ‘purity’ that would make it advice on which the NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell ought to rely upon while he awaits the multi billion dollar investment the private sector is clamoring to make in order to build a high speed rail link to Canberra Airport which won’t be competitive with current coach or private car access to the terminal on the Majura Plains from anywhere but a tight radius around wherever the high speed rail terminal is located in the Sydney basin.
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