Report finds Sydney Airport curfew actually creates more noise

Commercial Airplane  taxiing down the runway

A new report has found Sydney Airport’s curfew could be causing more noise and worsening delays.

The findings were released by the Productivity Commission in a 40-page draft examining the economic regulation of Australian airports.

See also: “Disappointing”: Airline industry slams Productivity Commission’s airport regulation recommendations

“The movement cap and curfew [in Sydney] sometimes result in more noise and emissions, in spite of their noise reduction objective,” the report said.

“The objective of managing the effect of aircraft noise on local residents should be balanced with reforms that benefit the community at large, including through improvements to the efficiency of Sydney Airport.”

The reason for the exacerbated noise and delays, according to the report, is that the curfew has caused planes to arrive earlier than scheduled and having to wait in the air rather than landing and breaching the curfew, which prohibits aircraft from taking off or landing between 11pm and 6am.

The report also found the curfew has led to longer delays during unexpected events like extreme weather.

“Aircraft movements can be prohibited entirely when delays stretch toward the curfew period,” the report said.

“Delays interfere with passengers’ schedules, create costs for airlines and have flow-on effects for Australia’s aviation network more broadly due to the high number of aircraft that pass through Sydney Airport.

The Productivity Commission recommended removing the cap on actual movements but retaining a cap on scheduled movements or adopting noise-based criteria for determining which aircraft are permitted to operate during the curfew, rather than the current prescribed list of aircraft types.

Sydney Airport CEO Geoff Culbert told the ABC he agreed with the report’s findings.

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