Air Transport

Programme 2.4—Air Transport

Highlights

The Department commenced implementation of the Australian Government's aviation policy as outlined in the Coalition policy for aviation statement released in August 2013.

Key achievements in 2013–14 are listed below.

  • On 15 April 2014 the Australian Government announced that Badgerys Creek will be the site for a new airport for Western Sydney. The Australian Government has established the Western Sydney Unit within the Department to implement this decision and undertake important consultation with local councils, the community and other stakeholders, including the aviation industry.
  • On 6 March 2014 the Qantas Sale Amendment Bill 2014 was introduced into the Parliament and passed by the House of Representatives. If passed by the Senate, the legislation will enable Qantas to compete under the same regulatory framework as other Australian-based airlines.2
  • At the 38th Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization, Australia was re-elected to Category One of the council, reserved for states of chief importance to air transport.
  • On 3 June 2014 the Deputy Prime Minister released the report of the Aviation Safety Regulation Review which examined the Australian aviation safety system, its governance and structures, and safety regulatory development framework.
  • In March 2014 amendments to the Civil Aviation Act 1988 were enacted to expand the Civil Aviation Safety Authority Board to allow more aviation skills and experience to be added.
  • On 20 March 2014 the Australian Government tabled its response to the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Reference Committee's Report into Aviation Accident Investigations.
  • The Joint Agency Coordination Centre was established on 30 March 2014 to coordinate the Australian Government's support of the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

Overview

Programme 2.4 was delivered through work of the Aviation and Airports Division, with input from the Policy and Research Division. This programme contributes to Outcome 2 by ensuring the aviation industry operated within a clear and robust safety regulatory environment and by facilitating access to competitive international and domestic air services for Australian businesses and consumers.

2 This statement was correct as at 30 June 2014 however the Qantas Sale Amendment Bill 2014 passed both houses on 18 July 2014.

Summary of Performance

Tables 4.10 and 4.11 summarise the Department's results in delivering Programme 2.4 against the key performance indicators and deliverables and their targets published in the 2013–14 Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements.

Table 4.10 Summary of performance-Programme 2.4 key performance indicators

Key performance indicator Target Result
Policy advice is influential in the Government's response to current and emerging international and domestic aviation industry issues. Advice to Government on aviation policy issues and initiatives and work on implementation of policy directions. 2013–14
Achieved
2012–13
Substantially
Achieved
2011–12
Substantially
Achieved
2010–11
Achieved
Advice has been provided to the Deputy Prime Minister following the 2013 Federal Election to implement the incoming Australian Government's policy priorities.
Aviation regulation, policies and administered items effectively support future investment in safe, efficient and environmentally responsible aviation infrastructure. Ongoing investment in infrastructure by government agencies and industry. 2013–14
Substantially
Achieved
2012–13
Achieved
2011–12
Achieved
2010–11
Achieved

Airservices Australia completed a number of major infrastructure projects in 2013–14 including the commissioning of new towers at Melbourne and Adelaide airports. These projects are part of Airservices Australia ongoing $1.0 billion capital programme over the next five years in new and enhanced air traffic and rescue and fire-fighting infrastructure and services.

The aviation industry also continues to invest in aircraft equipped with satellite-based technology consistent with the wider application of this technology in our airspace to enhance air traffic safety, efficiency and capacity.

Access to air services for remote communities is maintained or improved. Funded projects are completed and the Department manages all projects funded by the Government in accordance with contractual requirements. 2013–14
Achieved
2012–13
Substantially
Achieved
2011–12
Achieved
2010–11
Achieved

The scheme provided 257 remote and isolated communities across 10 geographical regions with access to a regular air service for the carriage of passengers and goods including medicines, fresh food and educational materials.

Air operator contracts managed according to contractual requirements.

Result Key
Achieved All targets for 2013–14 were met or exceeded.
Substantially achieved Targets were mostly met, and any issues are being managed.
Partially achieved Some targets were met, and any issues are being managed.
Not achieved None or minimal progress was made against targets in 2013–14.

Did you know?

There were 57.6 million passengers carried on domestic regular public transport flights in 2013, an increase of 1.8 per cent on the previous year. Melbourne-Sydney remained Australia's busiest route with 8.2 million passengers followed by Brisbane-Sydney with 4.4 million passengers and Brisbane-Melbourne with 3.2 million passengers.

Source: Domestic Aviation Activity 2013.

Table 4.11 Summary of performance-Programme 2.4 deliverables

Deliverable Target Result
Aviation industry operates within a clear and robust regulatory framework.Aviation safety agency governance arrangements operate effectively.

Advice to incoming Government on new aviation policy initiatives and commencement of implementation.

Facilitate the Aviation Safety Regulation Review.

Key aviation safety initiatives were implemented including the establishment and completion of the Aviation Safety Regulation Review supported by a small departmental team established to support the review panel.

Amendments to the Civil Aviation Act 1988 to enable the expansion of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority Board to facilitate more aviation skills and experience being added were passed in the Autumn 2014 sittings of Parliament.

Businesses and consumers have access to competitive international and domestic air services.Agreements which provide increased flexibility and capacity are established,consistent with Government policy. Air services talks with key countries.

Air services talks, both face-to-face and by correspondence, with a number of countries resulted in expanded opportunities for airlines to develop new and existing markets.

Discussions continued with the European Commission on the proposed comprehensive air services agreement with the European Union.

Leased airports are regulated in accordance with the Airports Act 1996. Master Plans and Major Development Plans assessed in accordance with legislative requirements and advice provided to Minister. Master and Major Development Plans assessed in accordance with legislative requirements. The Department assessed three Master Plans, eight Major Development Plans and one minor variation to a Major Development Plan and provided advice to the Deputy Prime Minister in accordance with the requirements of the Airports Act 1996.
Aviation environmental impact on communities including aircraft noise is monitored to ensure operator compliance with airport curfews and aircraft noise certification requirements,and appropriate noise disclosure in Airport Master Plans. Dispensation reports tabled; compliance with airport curfews; administration of aircraft noise regulations; and continued improvements in aircraft noise information. Dispensation reports were tabled for all curfewed airports. Compliance with curfew requirements was monitored and enforced.
Air access to regional and remote communities is supported (Payment scheme for Airservices Australia's en route charges and Regional Aviation Access administered items). Financial assistance provided to air operators so that regional communities can have access to medical services. Safety and ccess at remote airstrips improved.

The Remote Air Services Subsidy Scheme funding component under the Regional Aviation Access Programme provided 257 remote and isolated communities across ten geographical regions with access to a regular air service for the carriage of passengers and goods including medicines,fresh food and educational materials.

Air operator contracts managed according to contractual requirements.

Assistance was provided to seven aeromedical operators during 2013–14. The Department paid invoices in a timely manner.

Implementation of the Australian Government's strategy on aviation capacity in the Sydney region. Progress all elements of the Australian Government's aviation strategy for aviation capacity in the Sydney region.

Advice was provided to the Australian Government on the overall strategy for a new airport for Western Sydney, including advice on the nature, timing, staging and operations, which informed the Australian Government's policy decisions on:

  • the location of an airport for Western Sydney which is the centrepiece of the Australian Government's strategy for addressing the aviation capacity needs of the Sydney region, and
  • a 10-year, $3.5 billion road investment programme to deliver the infrastructure which Western Sydney and a greenfields airport need.
Efficient and effective management of administered items. Items are administered in accordance with relevant legislation, published guidelines and ANAO guidance. Refer to the specific reports for each programme above.

Table 4.12 provides a summary of the results achieved by each of the administered items under Programme 2.4.

Table 4.12 Summary of performance-Programme 2.4 administered items

Administered Item Result
Airport Lessee Companies—reimbursement of parking fines The Department reimbursed the participating airports an agreed proportion of parking infringement revenue collected and remitted to the Australian Government.
Implementation of noise amelioration for Adelaide Airport A public building in Adelaide was identified as eligible for the programme in 2013.
International Civil Aviation Organization—ontribution Australia participated actively in the ICAO Council during 2013–14, with two employees based in the Montreal office representing Australia in ICAO Council matters and on the ICAO Air Navigation Commission. Australia, like other member states, pays an annual contribution towards ICAO's costs.
Payment scheme for Airservices Australia's en route charges Assistance was provided to seven aeromedical operators during 2013–14. The Department paid invoices in a timely manner.
Regional Aviation Access

Funding to upgrade a total of 42 aerodromes in remote locations across Australia was provided under the programme in 2013–14. These upgrades will improve safety and access for aircraft operators and their passengers, through a range of infrastructure measures such as:

  • runway sealing, resealing and pavement repairs
  • installation of runway lighting to enable night operations, including medical evacuations, and
  • installation of animal-proof perimeter fences.

The 42 airstrips were funded under the Remote Airstrip Upgrade funding component of Regional Aviation Access Programme.

Sydney West Airport—rental properties The Department effectively administered the leases to ensure that the Australian Government met its obligations as a landlord. This included authorising maintenance and paying water and land rates.

Note: The budget and actual expenditure for each administered item is listed in Appendix A.

Detailed Report on Performance

The following report is against the components of Programme 2.4 in the 2013–14 Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements.

(a) Implementation of the Australian Government's Aviation Policies

The Department has commenced implementation of initiatives outlined in the Australian Government's aviation policy.

In April 2014 the Australian Government announced that it had selected the Australian Government owned land at Badgerys Creek as the location for a new airport for Western Sydney to accommodate the growth in demand for aviation services. The Australian Government also delivered a shared plan with the New South Wales Government to build a stronger and more prosperous Western Sydney by investing more than $1.0 billion over the forward estimates and $3.5 billion over 10 years in major infrastructure upgrades that will transform the region's economy.

In March 2014 the Australian Government announced it had accepted the recommendations of the Brisbane Airport Curfew Review Steering Committee, co-chaired by the Department, that Brisbane Airport would continue to operate without a legislative curfew.

Implementation of the National Airports Safeguarding Framework at a national and jurisdictional level is continuing.

(b) Implementation of a Strategy for Enhanced Aviation Capacity in the Sydney Region

The Australian Government has acted on the election commitment to decide on the site for a new airport for Western Sydney. In supporting the Australian Government, the Department provided policy advice, based on the comprehensive analysis in the joint study on aviation capacity in the Sydney region, a study of Wilton and RAAF Base Richmond for civil aviation operations, and decades of reports and investigations preceding those.

On 15 April 2014 the Australian Government committed to Badgerys Creek as the greenfields site for an airport for Western Sydney. This decision is part of the Australian Government's plan to build infrastructure of the 21st century and will be central to the economic development of Western Sydney whose population is forecast to grow from two million residents to nearly three million by the mid-2030s.

In partnership with the New South Wales Government, the Australian Government also announced a 10-year road investment programme of $3.5 billion for Western Sydney for infrastructure and upgrades required for the airport development.

A greenfields airport development is a significant and complex undertaking requiring the best part of a decade to plan and construct. Implementing this strategy will also trigger a complex formal process with the Sydney Airport Group in relation to the right of first refusal to develop and operate the Second Sydney Airport as stated in the 2002 Share Sale Agreement.

The Australian Government has established the Western Sydney Unit within the Department to commence the preparatory work and detailed airport planning and consultations. The early priorities for the Western Sydney Unit include establishing the appropriate management framework for the project through the formation of a senior executive project board, and consultancies for specialist advice on:

  • legal and commercial: to support consultation with Sydney Airport Group under its right of first refusal and assist with developing proposals
  • environment: to satisfy the Australian Government's environmental obligations
  • business advice: to develop a business case for the airport including financing options
  • communications: to develop a communications and engagement strategy, and
  • airport design concepts: to prepare an airport design concept for Badgerys Creek.

The Department will continue to work with key stakeholders, including other Australian Government agencies, the New South Wales Government, local government, the community and the aviation industry to ensure an appropriate level of capacity to meet the future aviation demands and ensure integrated solutions that align with the broader strategic and transport planning of Sydney.

(c) Maintaining Aviation Safety

Participation in International Forums

The Department, in conjunction with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and Airservices Australia, has continued to maintain the Australian office at the ICAO headquarters in Montreal, Canada. The two departmental employees based in Montreal provided strong representation of Australian interests through their roles on the ICAO Council and Air Navigation Commission. The Department administered Australia's annual ICAO contribution.

Australian representatives, including the Air Navigation Commission representative were extensively involved in the development of the Global Air Navigation Plan and the Global Aviation Safety Plan; both of which were agreed by the 38th Assembly held in Montreal from 24 September 2013 to 4 October 2013. The Department successfully led Australia's delegation at the 38th Assembly with representation from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and Airservices Australia. Australia was re-elected to category one of the ICAO Council, reserved for states of chief importance to air transport.

The Department worked with other portfolio agencies to support Australia's transition to a Continuous Monitoring Approach from the Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme, as supported by ICAO. Australia is completing the requirements as part of the Continuous Monitoring Approach which includes protocol questions, state aviation activity questionnaire, corrective action plan and electronic filing of differences/compliance checklist.

Australian and Papua New Guinea (PNG) transport agencies are working together to improve transport safety and security in PNG. Work is being undertaken in the areas of accident investigation, aviation safety regulation, air traffic management, transport policy and maritime safety. The Australian Government's transport assistance programme to PNG, integrates the Transport Sector Support Programme, the Strongim Gavman Programme and the PNG-Australia Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the Transport Sector. Under component 2 (Aviation and Maritime Safety and Security) of the integrated programme, a total of $7.0 million is available from 30 June 2013 to 30 June 2016 for targeted capacity building activities within the PNG transport sector. The transport safety and security streams work in concert to help address PNG transport development and to better coordinate monitoring, reporting and evaluation activities.

Examples of activities under component 2 of the integrated transport programme include:

  • Airservices Australia providing assistance to PNG Air Services Limited to commission a new Air Traffic Management system and enhance the existing surveillance system
  • Airservices Australia working with PNG Air Services Limited to improve competencies necessary to comply with ICAO standards and recommended practices
  • the Australian Transport Safety Bureau providing assistance through the long term placement of a Senior Accident Safety Investigator within the PNG Accident Investigation Commission
  • the Australian Maritime Safety Authority providing assistance to the PNG National Maritime Safety Authority with the search and rescue gap analysis implementation costing, and
  • the Department providing assistance to the PNG Department of Transport by coordinating a professional development pathway for senior female executives within the PNG transport sector.

The Department took part in projects to assist Australia's neighbours to improve the safety, security and effectiveness of their air transport regulation. This includes the placement of three advisers within the PNG Department of Transport, the PNG Civil Aviation Safety Authority and the PNG National Maritime Safety Authority providing policy, safety and security support to PNG through the Strongim Gavman Programme. The senior transport strategy and policy adviser is positioned within the PNG Department of Transport and is also responsible for the strategic allocation of funds under the component 2 funding programme which provides high level strategic advice to the Secretary of the PNG Department of Transport.

Aviation Safety Regulation

On 14 November 2013 the Deputy Prime Minister announced the establishment of an Aviation Safety Regulation Review to be conducted by an independent panel of international aviation experts.

The panel was chaired by Mr David Forsyth AM (former Qantas senior manager and Airservices Australia Chair) and included Mr Don Spruston (former Director General of Civil Aviation in Canada) and Mr Roger Whitefield (former Head of Safety in British Airways and United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority Board member). The panel was assisted by a special general aviation adviser, Mr Phillip Reiss, President of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and was supported by a small departmental team.

The review panel received 269 submissions from industry and the public for its consideration and also consulted directly with industry through a series of face-to-face meetings around Australia.

On 3 June 2014 the Deputy Prime Minister tabled the panel's Review Report in Parliament. The Deputy Prime Minister also requested comments on the report and its recommendations from the public and the aviation industry by 30 June 2014.

The report concluded that Australia has an excellent safety record and an advanced aviation regulatory system. However the report also found that there are opportunities for the system to be improved to ensure Australia remains a leading aviation state.

Accordingly the report has made 37 recommendations for the Australian Government's consideration. These recommendations cover a range of issues including: the Civil Aviation Safety Authority's regulatory policy; the Authority's relationship with industry; the aviation safety regulatory reform programme; aviation safety governance and structural arrangements; and potential adjustments to the functions and roles of agencies and the Department.

The Department is working with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, Airservices Australia and the Department of Defence in the preparation of coordinated advice for the Deputy Prime Minister's consideration of a response to the Report and its recommendations.

The Department also provided assistance to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and Office of Parliamentary Counsel Taskforce which is finalising the regulatory reform programme covering the maintenance, operations and flight crew licensing suites of Civil Aviation Safety Authority's regulations. A number of updated licensing regulations were completed in 2013–14 in response to representations made by the aviation industry.

On 20 March 2014 the Deputy Prime Minister tabled in Parliament the Australian Government's response to the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Reference Committee's Report into Aviation Accident Investigations. The Australian Government agreed to 20 of the 26 recommendations of the Committee, with a further four of the recommendations being matters for particular agencies.

The Australian Government's response outlined proposed improvements to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau's investigative and reporting policies and procedures and the establishment of more transparent information sharing and governance arrangements between the Australian Transport Safety Bureau and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority. The Department coordinated the preparation of advice to the Australian Government for its consideration in completing the response to the Senate Committee's Report in close consultation with the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Airservices Australia and the Bureau of Meteorology.

Disability Access

During 2013–14 the Aviation Access Forum was established with new terms of reference to provide advice to the Australian Government on disability access policy, and operational and administrative issues associated with access to air services for people with a disability. The Aviation Access Forum provides an opportunity for information to be exchanged between representatives of disability sector organisations, the aviation industry and Australian Government agencies to help further improve access by people with disabilities to aviation services. The Department chairs and provides secretariat support to the Aviation Access Forum.

Key issues that the Aviation Access Forum progressed in 2013–14 included agreement to undertake a review of the Disability Access Facilitation Plan initiative and the two wheelchair policy of some Australian airlines.

The Department released a policy paper on the two wheelchair policies of some airlines in April 2014 for public comment. Submissions received by the Department are being considered in the preparation of final advice for the Australian Government's consideration in the second half of 2014. The Department is also undertaking a review of the Disability Access Facilitation Plan initiative in consultation with disability sector and aviation industry stakeholders. Results of the review will be discussed at the Aviation Access Forum meeting in October 2014.

Air Traffic Management

The four major Australian Government agencies involved in aviation policy, regulation and service provision continued to work together through the Aviation Policy Group and the Aviation Implementation Group on a range of aviation policy issues which had cross-agency implications in 2013–14. These agencies were the Department, Airservices Australia, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and the Department of Defence.

The Secretary of the Department is Chair of the Aviation Policy Group with the group's other members being the Chief Executive Officer of Airservices Australia, the Director of Aviation Safety in the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and the Chief of the Royal Australian Air Force. While the group offers a forum to maintain strong working relationships between the agencies and coordinate joint action where appropriate, each agency retains individual authority and accountability for its own functions at all times.

In 2013–14 the Aviation Policy Group and Aviation Implementation Group progressed a range of aviation portfolio issues including:

  • coordination of Australia's active involvement in achieving enhancements to international aviation safety and navigation standards and practices at the ICAO Assembly meeting in October 2013
  • implementation of the initial Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast mandate from December 2013 and allowing some transitional arrangements to enhance industry compliance with the use of this more precise satellite-based surveillance and navigation technology
  • commencement of an examination of future civil and military air traffic arrangements in the Perth region
  • commencement of an assessment of aircraft priorities at capital city airports as outlined in the Aeronautical Information Publication compiled by Airservices Australia, and
  • assisting the Bureau of Meteorology in the completion of their aerodrome forecast review report through the provision of aviation policy, safety and operational advice.

The supporting Aviation Implementation Group, chaired by the Department, continued to meet quarterly to develop advice on issues identified by the Aviation Policy Group. The Aviation Implementation Group agencies also continued to engage with the Australian Strategic Air Traffic Management Group which is the industry advisory group on air traffic management issues.

Did you know?

There were a total of 326,700 aircraft movements at Sydney Airport in 2013.

Source: Australian Airport Movements, Airservices Australia.

CASE STUDY

Aviation Safety Regulation Review

a photograph of The Hon. Warren Truss MP, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development with Mr David Forsyth AM, Chair of the Aviation Regulation Review Panel

The Hon. Warren Truss MP, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development with Mr David Forsyth AM, Chair of the Aviation Regulation Review Panel.

In November 2013 the Deputy Prime Minister announced the establishment of an independent Aviation Safety Regulation Review (the review).

The review was conducted by a panel of eminent aviation experts chaired by Mr David Forsyth AM, a former senior manager of Qantas and former chair of Airservices Australia. Other panel members were Mr Don Spruston, former Director General of Civil Aviation at Transport Canada and Mr Roger Whitefield, former UK Civil Aviation Authority Board member.

Mr Phillip Reiss, President of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association in Australia, provided specialist advice on general aviation matters.A small departmental secretariat team also provided valuable support to the work of the panel.

The panel investigated a number of key issues including:

  • the structure, effectiveness and processes of all agencies involved in aviation safety
  • the relationships between those agencies
  • the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) regulatory reform process, and
  • the suitability of Australia's aviation safety regulations against comparable overseas jurisdictions.

The Air Traffic Policy Branch provided advice to the panel about the Department's current role within Australia's aviation safety framework, the governance arrangements between aviation agencies and a range of historical documents in response to specific requests.

The panel conducted over 200 meetings with individuals, aviation industry members, international counterparts and government officials, including the Department's executive team and portfolio aviation agencies. The review attracted widespread public interest with over 260 formal submissions received and considered by the panel in finalising the report.

The panel's report was tabled in Parliament by the Deputy Prime Minister in June 2014 and noted that Australia has an excellent, high capacity safety record and an advanced aviation regulatory system. The Report outlined 37 recommendations to improve Australia's aviation safety regulation system to ensure that Australia remains an internationally recognised leader in aviation safety. The recommendations included:

  • proposed changes to CASA's regulatory policies and processes, regulatory framework and regulatory reform programme
  • suggestions for improving the relationship between CASA and the aviation industry
  • proposed changes to agency governance arrangements, structures and functions
  • improvements to coordination and cooperation between CASA and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, and
  • a stronger policy role for the Department in the aviation safety system.

The Australian Government's response to the report is expected to be tabled in Parliament before the end of 2014.

(d) Expanding Aviation Markets

International Air Services Arrangements

In 2013–14 the Department:

  • held air services negotiations with Cambodia, New Caledonia, Malaysia and Ethiopia, and
  • pursued new arrangements by correspondence with a number of other countries, including Belarus, Burma, Botswana, Cote D'Ivoire, Ecuador, Italy, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Qatar, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, and Mongolia in order to address commercial needs of airlines or administrative treaty matters.

Discussions have continued with the European Commission on a proposed comprehensive air services agreement with the European Union. The negotiations encompass issues such as market access, protection of the environment, aviation safety and security and will expand opportunities for airlines to provide a competitive network of air services.

The Department continued to regulate scheduled international air services in accordance with the Air Navigation Act 1920 and associated regulations. The Department granted 402 timetable approvals, 404 timetable variations, six non-scheduled flight approvals and six approvals for new International Airline Licences in 2013–14.

Current Aviation Market

The air services arrangements negotiated by the Department provide capacity entitlements exceeding current demand giving airlines flexibility to deliver air services in a commercially viable way.

In April 2014 53 international scheduled airlines operated services to and/or from Australia including five dedicated freight airlines.

In terms of market uptake Australia's aviation activity in the year ended April 2014 increased compared with performance in the previous 12 months. Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows there were 32.1 million passenger movements into and out of Australia representing growth of 6.9 per cent when compared with the previous 12 months. Of the total international passenger movements, 8.9 million passengers were short-term resident departures, an increase of 6.8 per cent, and 6.5 million passengers were short-term visitor arrivals into Australia, an increase of 7.0 per cent.

(e) Managing Airport Infrastructure

Management of Leased Federal Airports

The Department oversees the operation of 21 leased Australian Government airports which were privatised between 1997 and 2003 through the establishment of long-term leases of 50 years with options to renew for a further 49 years.

The Department is responsible for monitoring compliance with the airport leases, ensuring compliance with the Airports Act 1996 and associated regulations.

Did you know?

In 2013 flights operated by the major domestic airlines averaged 81.0 per cent for on-time departures and 79.0 per cent for on-time arrivals. Cancellations represented 1.8 per cent of all scheduled flights.

Source: Domestic Airline On-Time Performance 2013.

Planning Approvals

Under the Airports Act 1996 a master plan must be prepared for every leased Federal airport except Mt Isa and Tennant Creek. The master plan represents the airport-lessee company's planning and development vision for the airport over a 20-year period. The master plan is reviewed every five years and must be the subject of public consultation.

A major development plan is required for each major development at an airport. Section 89 of the Airports Act 1996 defines ‘major developments’ to include any major building work or any other development on the airport site with potentially significant environmental or community impacts.

The Deputy Prime Minister may approve or refuse any master plan, or major development plan.

In 2013–14 the Department provided assessments to the Deputy Prime Minister, in accordance with the requirements of the Airports Act 1996, on three airport master plans and eight major development plans.

At the end of the reporting period, the Department was continuing to assess two major development plans. Details on each of these statutory planning documents is provided in Appendix F.

Environmental Management and Building Control

Management of the environment at the airport site is the responsibility of the airport lessee. Through the Airports Act 1996 and the Airports (Environment Protection) Regulations 1997, the Department monitors compliance and regulates activities that may have environmental impacts. Through the Airports Act 1996 and the Airports (Building Control) Regulations 1996 the Department monitors compliance and regulates building standards at the airports.

The Department has appointed airport environment officers and airport building controllers for each of the leased airports to monitor and ensure compliance with environmental and building standards.

Lease Compliance Reviews

The Department conducts annual lease reviews of the 21 leased Federal airports to ensure compliance with the terms of their leases. In 2013–14 the Department continued to monitor compliance with obligations under the terms of the head lease. The Department also assesses the adequacy of airport insurance cover each year, with the assistance of a contracted insurance adviser.

Details of the annual airport lease review meetings and the insurance review for 2013–14 are provided in Appendix F.

Did you know?

Sydney was Australia's busiest airport in 2013 accounting for 26.3 per cent of all regular public transport passenger movements. Melbourne accounted for 20.9 per cent, Brisbane 14.8 per cent, Perth 8.9 per cent and Adelaide 5.1 per cent.

Source: Airport traffic data 1985 to 2013.

Slot Management at Sydney Airport

The Department oversees the demand management framework at Sydney Airport under the Sydney Airport Demand Management Act 1997. The objectives of the regime are to:

  • provide an effective means of administering the movement limit
  • alleviate delays caused by congestion
  • safeguard access for regional airlines
  • provide equal access to slots for new entrants, and
  • spread aircraft movements more evenly within hours.
Reimbursement of Parking Fines

Eight leased Federal airports (Brisbane, Gold Coast, Hobart, Launceston, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney and Townsville) participate in the Parking Infringement Notices Scheme. The airports administer the vehicle control regime in accordance with the Airports (Control of On-Airport Activities) Regulations 1997. Revenue collected by the airports for parking offences is remitted to the Australian Government and airports are reimbursed, up to a set maximum amount, to partially offset their costs in administering the scheme.

The Department holds regular stakeholder meetings to improve communication and relations with the participating airports. The next meeting is scheduled for May 2015.

Protection of the Prescribed Airspace of Leased Airports

The airspace around airports must be protected from obstacles, such as tall buildings, which could affect the safety, regularity and efficiency of operations. A regulatory framework has been established under the Airports Act 1996 and the Airports (Protection of Airspace) Regulations 1996 to assess proposals for activities such as the construction of tall buildings around airports.

The Department assesses applications for activities that will intrude into prescribed airspace based on the opinion of the airport and advice from Airservices Australia and Civil Aviation Safety Australia.

Amelioration of the Environmental Impacts of Aircraft Movements

Noise amelioration programmes

The Department has administered noise amelioration programmes at Adelaide and Sydney airports, providing funds to install noise insulation for eligible residences and public buildings under major fight paths. The programmes have now been closed with the insulation of one remaining public building in Adelaide to complete the programme.

Curfews

To minimise the impact of night-time noise on nearby communities, restrictions on aircraft movements are applied, through legislated curfews, at the Adelaide, Essendon, Gold Coast and Sydney airports. The curfews, which operate between the hours of 11pm and 6am, limit the number and type of aircraft that can be operated and stipulate which runways can be used.

In 2013–14 the Department:

  • assessed 91 applications for curfew dispensations: 22 for Adelaide, five for Gold Coast (Coolangatta) and 64 for Sydney, and
  • approved 33 curfew dispensations: six for Adelaide, two for Gold Coast (Coolangatta) and 25 for Sydney.
International Cooperation on Aviation Environmental Issues

The Department continued to actively participate in the ICAO Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection. The current focus of the committee is the development of an aircraft CO2 standard.

Community Resources

The Department continued to provide secretariat support to the Sydney Airport Community Forum. The forum is a consultative committee comprised of Australian Government, state and local governments, and community representatives, which considers airport-related issues affecting the community.

Management of Properties at Badgerys Creek

The Australian Government owns and leases out commercial and residential properties on a site at Badgerys Creek, New South Wales, acquired for a new airport in Western Sydney. The Department administered the leases during 2013–14 to ensure the Australian Government met its obligations as a landlord.

National Airports Safeguarding Advisory Group

The 2009 Aviation White Paper proposed the development of a national land use planning framework that would:

  • improve community amenity by minimising aircraft noise-sensitive developments near airports including through the use of additional noise metrics and improved noise-disclosure mechanisms, and
  • improve safety outcomes by ensuring aviation safety requirements are recognised in land use planning decisions through guidelines being adopted by jurisdictions on various safety-related issues.

The National Airports Safeguarding Advisory Group, comprising representatives of the Australian Government, state and territory government planning and transport agencies, the Department of Defence, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Airservices Australia and the Australian Local Government Association, worked together to develop the National Airports Safeguarding Framework.

The framework covers a range of safety issues including airspace protection, wildlife management, wind turbine safety, lighting and building-induced windshear. It also covers amenity issues that could arise when noise-sensitive land uses are approved too close to airports or under flight paths.

At its March 2014 meeting the National Airports Safeguarding Advisory Group considered the progress of guidance on other safety issues to be included in the framework and development of a communications strategy on its application.

(f) Supporting Sustainable Development

During 2013–14 the Remote Air Services Subsidy Scheme subsidised weekly flights to 257 remote communities. Under the Remote Aerodrome Inspection Programme, 32 aerodrome inspections were undertaken during 2013–14. The Remote Airstrip Upgrade Programme provided funding assistance to 42 access and safety upgrade projects during 2013–14.

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Last Updated: 3 February, 2015