Statement on regional access to Sydney Airport

Response to report in Wagga Wagga’s The Daily Advertiser, 10 July, titled, ‘Hands off’: Wagga fights to retain Sydney Airport access.

I APPRECIATE the Tourism and Transport Forum Australia released a report on 4 July, 2018 making a range of independent recommendations concerning Sydney Airport’s operation efficiency and capacity.

The Australian Government has no plans to remove the legislated protections for regional flights into Sydney airport.

Access to Sydney Airport for regional airlines is protected by legislation – including pricing protections and the establishment of a pool of slots available only for regional NSW operations. 

Any move to remove Wagga Wagga’s regional landing and take-off slots at Sydney Airport or compromise the current quality and standards for the regions – or undo long-fought protections which serve not just the Riverina and Wagga Wagga but other regional communities – would be vehemently opposed by me.

Indeed any such attempts to remove similar protections for regional air services and the regional communities they serve would also be opposed by The Nationals.

The Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese also rejected the Tourism and Transport Forum Australia’s proposal to deregulate the activity at Sydney Airport, which would mean regional cities such as Wagga Wagga were unable to have that access during peak periods into and out of Sydney.

Mr Albanese also told media yesterday aviation safety shouldn't be a “partisan political issue and I know that is a view shared by Minister McCormack”.

Calls to deregulate such services are an oversimplification of a complex issue which ignores the need to protect our regions while balancing airline safety requirements and customer needs.

There are no quick or easy solutions with peak period regional slots fully subscribed and additional capacity unavailable.

But the current arrangements do seek to strike a balance between ensuring access to the airport for regional communities and maximising airport capacity by processing larger aircraft.

Shane Manning