Major construction or other projects occurring close to Sydney Airport’s runway or routine and maintenance work can sometimes affect flights to and from the airport. To ensure the safety of aircraft and workers, this means the use of particular runways can be temporarily affected.
New taxiways and aircraft parking bays
In 2021, passenger numbers at SYD hit their lowest point of the COVID pandemic, at just 1% of 2019 levels. As at June 2023, passenger numbers were back to nearly 90% of 2019 levels. Growth is expected to continue as more people choose to fly.
With that recovery, a number of major projects that had been suspended due to COVID have now restarted.
One such project will see two new taxiways constructed, an existing taxiway extended and six new aircraft parking bays constructed in SYD’s south-east sector near the Air Traffic Control Tower and Blu Emu Carpark.
The project, which was originally approved by the Australian Government in 2019, is a $169 million investment to meet forecast aviation demand in 2029. It will take around two years to complete.
Due to the proximity of the worksite to the east-west and main north-south runways, the use of those runways will be unavoidably affected to ensure the safety of workers.
Opportunities for aircraft noise sharing on weekdays will be affected. Noise sharing opportunities on weekends won’t change
From October 2023, the east-west runway will be temporarily closed for no more than 10-weeks
For safety reasons, the limited number of overnight domestic freight aircraft that are permitted to use the main north-south runway between 11pm and 6am will instead use the parallel north-south (or third) runway. Initially, this will be for no more than 70 nights until 31 December 2023.
As a result, the number of aircraft using the east-west runway will temporarily decrease and the number using the two north-south runways will temporarily increase.
More information on the expected change for each of Sydney Airport’s 16 flight paths can be downloaded here.
This compares the average daily number of flights for each flight path before the project started in August 2019 and compares that with the expected number of flights in July 2024 both with and without the project.
As can be seen, depending on which of Sydney Airport’s flight paths is being used, the increase caused by the project will be between one and six flights spread across 17-hours between 6am and 11pm, or 3–5%. Some flight paths will see no change in the number of flights or fall to zero.
A Frequently Asked Questions and Answers document can be downloaded here.
Maintenance work on main north-south runway
Sydney Airport will be carrying out essential maintenance work on the main north-south runway and associated taxiways until 31 December 2023.
The work can only be carried out during the airport’s curfew, between 11pm and 6am and will occur on up to 70 nights.
Some of these nights will also be required due to the project being carried out in Sydney Airport’s south-east sector and the Sydney Gateway road project.
This means the limited number of overnight freight and other aircraft that can operate during these times will instead use the parallel north-south runway.
On average, there are currently between 11 and 18 such flights per night, half of which are departures and half arrivals.
Commonwealth legislation has always allowed emergency Air Ambulance and a limited number of domestic freight and general aviation flights to operate between 11pm and 6am. The freight carried overnight is typically extremely time-sensitive or high value and includes Australia Post mail, food and perishables, radioactive isotopes and e-commerce.
Using the parallel north-south runway means people living in Kurnell, La Perouse, Phillip Bay and parts of Botany may hear aircraft noise between 11pm and 6am on some nights between now and the end of the year. People living outside these areas may also hear noise.
Contact: Mr Ted Plummer
Phone: (02) 9667 6182
If you wish to lodge a formal aircraft noise complaint with Airservices Australia, the Australian Government agency responsible for air traffic management at all of Australia’s major airports, visit their Noise Complaints and Information Service.