Nov 21, 2012

Melbourne’s third runway to take Sydney’s unwanted by 2018

The stupidity dividend has landed at Melbourne Airport, which is going ahead with a third runway to take away the business activity that Sydney thinks will catch a train from a Canberra Airport its Premier has just crippled with a housing estate approval.

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking

The announcement of the preferred orientation in an east-west direction for Melbourne Airport’s third runway to come into operation between 2018-2022 should allow NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell to keep his promise not to build a second Sydney Airport.

It will readily take all the extra flights from China and the rest of Asia that intended to use Sydney Airport until at least 2025, and the extra economic activity that it would have brought to the harbour city.

If Mr O’Farrell has his way, Canberra will be Sydney’s 2nd airport courtesy of a presumably free fast train by then paid for by the redistributed taxes from more intelligently run states, except that one hemisphere of his brain appears to have approved a housing estate in NSW that will cripple Canberra airport anyhow.

Melbourne Airport exists in a very different environment to Sydney. The city has a second airport at Avalon that is little used but has huge potential as its western precincts expand, and is contemplating a third airport at Tooradin or a similar site closer to the south eastern sprawl, meaning its dominant airport cannot get away with monopoly pricing and gouge the Melbourne economy as thoroughly as has been the case with Sydney Airport and Sydney.

Meanwhile the dark comedy of the quest for the 2nd Sydney Airport flickers in and out of view.

The ‘free’ pre-owned site at Badgerys Creek is going to kept safe for real estate developers by Federal Labor even as the SW Rail link inches closer to a point where it could connect it easily to the rest of the metropolitan network,  while yet another expert but far too independent panel  tries to gently the break the news to Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese that the decreed and officially anointed site at Wilton is about as smart from an engineering point of view as O’Farrell’s fixation with the Canberra option that no-one can, or will, actually use.

This is the Melbourne Airport statement:

Melbourne Airport has announced the preferred orientation for its third runway which will be included in the airport’s draft Master Plan to be published for public comment in early 2013.

Melbourne Airport CEO, Chris Woodruff, said the airport proposed the construction of a new east-west runway to provide additional capacity for the forecast growth in aircraft movements at Melbourne Airport by the end of this decade.

“The Melbourne Airport draft Master Plan envisages that a new runway will be needed around 2018-2022 to meet the demand from domestic and international airlines as the number of passengers travelling through Melbourne continues to grow.

“Passenger numbers are forecast to reach 40 million by the end of the decade, and more than 60 million by 2033.”

The proposed third runway will operate in parallel to the existing east-west runway (RWY 09/27) as well as the existing north-south runway (RWY 16/34). The new runway will be approximately 3000 metres in length and 60 metres wide. It will be capable of handling aircraft up to the size of an A380.

Mr Woodruff said a range of criteria had been assessed in making the decision to select the east-west runway orientation. These included the capacity the runway provided to cater for future demand; community and environmental impacts; operational requirements and the cost of construction.

“A new east-west runway will enable Melbourne Airport to handle more aircraft movements, more efficiently. Passengers will spend less time on the ground taxiing to and from terminals, and aircraft will burn less fuel on more direct flight paths and shorter trips from the gate to the runway,” Mr Woodruff said.

The proposed east-west runway would have a capital cost of around $500 million and a construction period of between two and four years.

Mr Woodruff said the development of a third runway was consistent with the ultimate development concept for Melbourne Airport, and previous Master Plans had always envisaged a third and fourth runway being constructed.

The noise and planning overlays for Melbourne Airport have also reflected the impact of a third and fourth runway. The ‘noise contours’ for Melbourne Airport will be updated in the 2013 draft Master Plan to reflect the proposed third runway.

“We expect there will only be a slight variation to the noise contours which are used for planning purposes compared to the current contours. However, there will be some areas within the existing noise contours that will experience more aircraft flying overhead as a result of the construction of a new runway,” Mr Woodruff said.

“In the course of planning for a third runway, we will be working closely with various stakeholders, including Airservices Australia, on measures to minimize the noise impact on our neighbours, while ensuring we continue to operate the airport in the most efficient way possible,” Mr Woodruff said.

The proposed third runway will be shown in the draft Master Plan for Melbourne Airport, which will be submitted, to the Commonwealth Government for approval in 2013. This is a requirement of the Commonwealth Airports Act 1996. The draft Master Plan, including the updated noise contours, will be issued for public consultation in the first quarter of 2013. Following the public comment period, the draft master plan is submitted to the Commonwealth Minister for Infrastructure and Transport. When approved, the Master Plan sets out the future development of the airport over the next two decades.

The construction of a third runway will require a separate planning, consultation and approval process, which is expected to be carried out by 2015/16. A new runway would have a construction time frame of two to four years, with the new runway proposed to be operational around 2018-2022.

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12 thoughts on “Melbourne’s third runway to take Sydney’s unwanted by 2018

  1. Matt Mushalik

    We are in year #8 of peak oil. From my website:

    Peak oil lite: Sydney Airport passenger traffic 15% below 2009 forecast (part 1)

  2. discus

    I’ve been in aviation for nearly 40 years and lived in Sydney for most of that. So many excuses so little done. Barry O’F has a huge majority that will clearly be wasted on just sacking public servants and cutting health and education not on something that was needed 30 years ago. I think the “stupidity dividend” sums it up perfectly. The clowns in Canberra are no better.Tits on a bull. Well played Melbourne.

  3. Ben Sandilands

    Good, very good point. But also the reason why large scale non fossil carbon releasing bio and algal fuels are racing toward larger scale production and lower unit prices.

    When the cost of these fuels (including carbon tax or ETS credits) are comparable to those of oil based kerosene there is an environmental dividend, but more importantly, the opening of a way to replace fossil carbon releasing oil and coal in other much larger and dirtier forms of fuel usage in cars, trucks, ships and industry.

    At the moment the gap is considerable. Using WTI crude per barrell as a proxy, and the latest published claims re bio-fuels, the former is this morning at around $US 86 and the latter at $US 140-150.

  4. ltfisher

    A great move by Melbourne. Hopefully it will galvanise Sydney/NSW into halting the procrastination and decide quickly to either build a second airport or not. At the same time it will, again hopefully, put to rest the ambitions of the cargo cultists who, at present, hold the lease on the Canberra Airport site.

  5. Aidan Stanger

    Ben –

    It will readily take all the extra flights from China and the rest of Asia that intended to use Sydney Airport until at least 2025, and the extra economic activity that it would have brought to the harbour city.

    That seems very unlikely to me. I think all these new extra flights will go exactly where the airlines want them to, and some of the existing domestic flights will be priced out instead. Melbourne may get an advantage as a cheaper place to do business than Sydney, but the extra distance to get there makes it far from certain.

    If Mr O’Farrell has his way, Canberra will be Sydney’s 2nd airport courtesy of a presumably free fast train

    I think it’s safe to presume it won’t be free – firstly because of the premium price for train tickets to and from the existing airport, and secondly because the trains and buses between the airports Ryanair uses and the cities they purport to serve aren’t free.

    But it may still be cheaper. It’s difficult to predict the premium that using Sydney airport would attract.

    by then paid for by the redistributed taxes from more intelligently run states, except that one hemisphere of his brain appears to have approved a housing estate in NSW that will cripple Canberra airport anyhow.

    Any more than the housing at Broadmeadows will cripple plans for expanding Melbourne airport?

  6. Ben Sandilands

    Both the Tullamarine and Badgerys Creek sites were protected from housing estate noise claims by some very tightly drafted legislation. In former case this legislation has withstood all legal challenges with costs awarded against the claimants, but significant housing expansion has occurred up to most of the boundaries of the airport and under its flight paths suggesting that despite the noise there are those prepared to live in these areas.

    As I understand it Canberra Airport is not legally immunized from noise complaints from the future residents of Tralee, but I wouldn’t care to predict the future courses that might arise from High Court Appeals or parliamentary intervention either for or against the position taken by the airports and noise complainants.

    There is nothing wrong with being concerned about the environmental effects of airports (which are diminishing) but there is in my view a great deal that is wrong with ignoring the legislated matters or trying to run the sort of populist nonsense that once accompanied the extension of electric tramways in Sydney in my parent’s times or more widespread industrial revolution agitation against steam trains in their parent’s times.

  7. Cat on a PC©

    Ben, you are quite correct in saying that many people have moved to areas right up to the airport boundaries. Particularly notable are residents in Attwood who have magnificent views of aircraft final approaches to Runway 27. Many don’t mind at all having aircraft flying by, almost at eye level, outside their bedroom window.

    What was most infuriating was a report on Channel 9 news this evening about ‘runway rage’ showing a graphic of an aircraft taking off from a future runway 09R over the suburbs. Takeoffs to the east in Melbourne are rare, for one, and secondly, with new engine technology and air traffic management with an eye on fuel savings and noise reduction, approaches would hardly be noticed by the existing residents east of the airport.

    What is curious though, and I have not seen any mention of it, is that the third runway would only be 3000 metres long and quite possibly next to useless for most heavy long haul takeoffs (correct me if I’m wrong). The other point is that the new runway would crossing 34/16, south of the terminal, would not permit LAHSO operations on 34 if the new 27L/09R is in operation. In short; no great addition to aircraft movement, notwithstanding you can ‘shoot the gap’ with some clever takeoff sequencing.

    All this third runway talk is speculative of course and and for those of us who follow aviation matters, unsurprising given the recent go ahead at Avalon for international flights.

    No. Tulla is not taking advantage of the second Sydney airport impasse; it has it’s eyes firmly locked on the nemesis at Avalon.

  8. HaTeMaiL

    Let’s not forget about little ol’ Essendon Airport. Not that it has much impact on the proposed runway expansions at Tulla except maybe in traffic control.

    Now to SYD.

    It looks more and more like Baz O’Faz and Antonio Albo are more concerned with their developer mates that the greater good of Sydney as a whole. Why are Sydneysiders taking this rubbish, and why for so long? Baz needs his head read if he thinks that using Canberra as a defacto SYD runway. Just what planet is he on? From an ex-Melbourneite, this looks like the saddest comedy ever told and just gives more fuel to the ‘Melbourne is more switched on then Sydney’ argument, and the way B’OF and AA are carrying on I would have to agree.

  9. Aidan Stanger

    Cat, a 3000m runway is very useful for heavy long haul takeoffs – in fact it’s what the A380 was designed for, and it’s only 100m shorter than the main Adelaide runway.

    For the very few flights where it’s inadequate, they can just use another runway.

  10. Cat on a PC©

    Thanks Aidan. I’m surprised however that they did not opt for a north-south alignment as originally planned, but from loking at the master plan, there doesn’t appear to be any room for a long runway.

  11. tayser

    Aidan: Beijing/Shanghai is only about 70-80nm closer to Sydney than it is to Melbourne, from Hong Kong westward, Tullamarine is closer to any asian city compared to Sydney – competitive distance like that to the east coast of mainland China I dare say would be entirely moot – it’ll all be about the infrastructure available, the incentives to fly there & the overall economic health & growth prospects of the destination – it’s no secret Melbourne has outperformed Sydney in the decade since the olympics in terms of population growth (more people wanting to fly) and jobs (more people being able to afford to fly).

    Re: further development closer to Tullamarine – Melburnians who have owned a Melways since some of its earliest editions (read: overwhelming majority of the population) will have seen the proposed runways on the maps – as well as clearly identified aircraft noise warnings, there are zero legs to stand on to complain about increased aviation noise.

  12. Iain Shearer

    The distance between Asian cities and Melbourne v Sydney is irrelevant. The fact is that Melbourne is 800 km from the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and many other attractions that Asian tourists choose to come to Australia for. Atlanta and Chicago are busier airports than New York and Los Angeles, only because of hub and domestic traffic. Apart from CNN and Coca-Cola, there’s not much else to go to Atlanta for. Melbourne will have the trophy of International gateway as a technicality only. Unless Melbourne can attract tourists and other purpose travellers for more than just sporting events and business junkets.

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