Something unique is about to disappear at Sydney Airport. There are only 13 weeks left before Airside Tarmac Tours closes on June 30, on the expiry of its commercial licence with the airport’s owners.
No-where else in the world can the public access a major gateway airport on a sight seeing excursion into areas you will never see by being inside a terminal, or an airliner.
No-where else can you watch close up the landing and takeoff of everything from pocket rocket corporate jets to something as big as an A380, and Sydney is currently a major centre for the operations of the giant Airbus, alongside Dubai, Singapore and London Heathrow.
So why is it ending? A Sydney Airport spokesman expressed admiration for the tours but said that in the post 9/11 world the agreement it made with the company would not have happened.
The tours have been appreciated by school groups and social clubs but from a security perspective, any non-essential vehicles entering the airside area involve an element of risk. The benefits that the tours provide must be balanced with the risks that are created.
Sydney Airport knows that this will be a disappointment for some people, but it is a fact that the aviation security environment has changed.
The operation was founded by Peter Bamford in the late ’90s and sold to the current owner Frank Monardo in 2003.
“I’ve always been an aviation enthusiast” Monardo says. “Not a true spotter, like those who know each jet’s complete history, but we are passionate about aviation and airliners and like to share our enthusiasm with people and show them the complete workings of the airport, and how it is the heart that keeps business activity circulating in Sydney.”
In truth, there are two iconic Sydney tours that give people a dramatic insight into the city. The harbour bridge climb, and the Airside Tarmac Tours. After June 30, there will only be one.