Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka has spoken out against calls for caps and curfews at Brisbane Airport, warning restrictions would push the cost of airline tickets “out of reach financially” for a lot of people.
Speaking at a BNE Enterprise function yesterday, Hrdlicka said that while its important to be respectful of the community, there would need to be “give and take” to keep movement around the country accessible.
Several communities in Brisbane have rallied against increased noise, including Bulimba, New Farm, Brookfield and the Samford Valley, leading Air Services Australia to commission an independent review into the problem, which was released last week.
The report, which was carried out by Trax, recommended more flights descend over Moreton Bay to lessen the impact on residents as well as a reduction of the frequency and concentration of flights over communities.
However, many are calling for the introduction of a curfew and a cap on flights over the city, similar to those in place at Sydney Airport.
“The challenge is that if you reduce the capacity that’s available out of an airport then you reduce the amount of supply in and out of that airport and that means the prices are going to go up because there won’t be enough supply to meet the demand,” Hrdlicka said.
“And then I would hate to see that get to an extreme place because that means that it’s really difficult to fly around the country and it would have an economic impact on the country, and it would have a huge impact on the community, because it would mean that a lot of people find the option of flying out of reach financially.”
Speaking at the same event, Brisbane Airport’s CEO Gert-Jan de Graaff said the measures would cost the community thousands of jobs and up to $1 billion.
“The noise issue is real. People living on the flight path, they are experiencing things that they don’t like; they don’t want. But caps and curfews are not the answer,” de Graaff said.
“Curfews, closing the airport during the night, has significant consequences, economic consequences as well as operational consequences.
“Caps are very significant because they will constrain the airport – period. And therefore that will cap the growth and the opportunity of what we are able to deliver the state of Queensland.
“We’re calculating that at about $1 billion yearly as the impact on the community and more than 9000 jobs that it would cost, so we think there are much better ways to manage that noise exposure.
Griffith MP Max Chandler-Mather, who has been on the forefront of campaigns opposing aircraft noise in his electorate, said Hrdlicka and de Graaff were engaging in a “scare campaign”.
“Sydney is Australia’s busiest airport, and it operates successfully with flight caps and a curfew,” Chandler-Mather told the Brisbane Times.
“Fares to and from Sydney aren’t out of reach of everyday people — this is a scare campaign from the airlines and BAC to protect their own profits.
“Ask any resident being woken up at 2.30am in the morning every night by screeching flight noise if they think a curfew is necessary. This is causing serious and ongoing health issues for thousands of Brisbane residents.”