Sydney Airport should consider reducing its no-fly curfew hours for "next-generation, low-noise aircraft" suggests Etihad CEO James Hogan.
Speaking at this week's Australia Pacific Aviation Summit in Sydney, Hogan added his weight to calls for airports already operating at peak capacity to update their noise curfew restrictions around modern aircraft design.
"In some cases curfews were introduced up to 50 years ago to mitigate the noise of 1950s-era jets" Hogan said.
“However, regulators haven’t considered the billions of dollars invested by airlines on low noise, low emission aircraft such as today’s Airbus A380s and Boeing 787s, which remain constrained by the same noise curfews as the very first jet airliners."
Sydney Airport imposes a curfew on most commercial flights from 11pm to 6am, although there's a one-hour 'shoulder' from 5am to 6am for "international passenger movements".
Airlines breaching the curfew can be fined up to $850,000.
Aviation journalist Ben Sandilands makes the point that relaxing the curfew for today's quieter jets could have saved passengers stranded by this week's crash of the Virgin Australia booking system.
"If curfews at Sydney and Adelaide airport didn’t apply to jets built after 2010 for example, Virgin Australia might have been able to fly all of its delayed passengers into and out of Sydney overnight, and in many cases, well before midnight, because it has enough young aircraft to have done this" Sandilands suggests.
"It could have confidently scheduled them to fly to Sydney from other airports to pick up stranded passengers that evening, rather than hold them at other airports until morning to avoid the strictly enforced 11 pm curfew."
What's your take: should Sydney Airport keep its current curfew across the board or introduce extended hours of operation for newer, quieter aircraft like the Boeing 737, Boeing 787 and the forthcoming Airbus A350?