Does Sydney Airport need a shorter curfew for newer, quieter planes?

Does Sydney Airport need a shorter curfew for newer, quieter planes?

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?

David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


  • Darren


    8 Aug, 2013 12:51 pm

    Living right near Sydney Airport, I do agree that the newer generation of aircraft are certainly much quieter.  The A380 and B787 (Which I watched take off on a promo visit last year) should definately have an extended curfew, however the B738 is no where near as quiet as these aircraft and should remain in the current curfew times.

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  • Darren


    8 Aug, 2013 12:53 pm

    Maybe if the curfew was extended for these aircraft by an additional hour ie. Midnight, Qatar Airways may launch B787 to Sydney.

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  • Brett


    8 Aug, 2013 12:52 pm

    The curfew's at both Sydney & Adelaide airports should be revised.

    They were put in place many years ago and considering the number of much quieter aircraft operating today and the fact that all property in the vicinity of these airport's have been sound proofed, the curfew's should be abolished or severley cut back.

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  • Darren


    8 Aug, 2013 12:55 pm

    Not all houses near Sydney Airport have been sound proofed. Mine certainly hasn't.

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  • watson374


    8 Aug, 2013 01:14 pm

    I think the curfew should be relaxed only very slightly - a few more international flights could arrive in the morning shoulder, perhaps, but I think the night curfew could be cut back an hour to come into force at midnight.

    That's the most I could reasonably expect, though.

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  • FrequentFlyer


    8 Aug, 2013 01:29 pm

    Forgive me to all the residents around Sydney Airport, but such restrictions for a major international city are reasonably ridiculous given there is one main airport in Sydney. A mid-term solution to the problems Sydney are facing at the moment could be resolved if this curfew was listed.

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  • charlieg


    8 Aug, 2013 02:06 pm

    Hear hear. Australia needs vision, and any economist will tell you that restricting operating hours of aircraft puts a considerable dampner on a citys ability to move forward. Check out the likes of USA airport that operate virtually 24hrs/day. How can our country expect  to move forward with restrictions like this? 

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  • TheRealBabushka


    8 Aug, 2013 09:07 pm

    Why is Sydney still  the premier financial capital of Australia despite the unfriendly airport operating hours? Is the causality of curfews and poor economic outcomes tenable? Or is it purely a truism bandied around in the absence of substantive evidence?

    Sydney is certainly not a hub airport like Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong or even London (LHR), which would benefit from 24h operations. In fact it's highly unlikely that Sydney will ever be a great hub-spoke airport on account of its geographical location. 

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  • Himeno


    9 Aug, 2013 03:58 pm

    SYD would make a very good hub for Asia > South America flights.

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  • TheRealBabushka


    9 Aug, 2013 04:06 pm

    You need scale in addition to geographical location to be a hub. 

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  • LR


    8 Aug, 2013 01:33 pm

    Cut the curfew all together! If you dont like the noise from the airport dont buy/rent there or move. And dont say its cheap to live there becaouse its not, SYD is an city airport


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  • Darren


    8 Aug, 2013 03:48 pm

    What a ignorant statement.  Sydney Airport is only 8 KM's from the City Centre and not located far out of town like Tullamarine.  It does not just effect residents on the suburbs around the airport, it effects around a million people city wide.  In fact a lot of the wingers are those on the lower North Shore and Eastern Suburbs.

    Sydney Airport was not designed for this volume of traffic and due to every Federal Government wasting Millions on feasability study after feasability study and not building anything, there is still not an additional airport to take some of the load.

    Don't get me wrong, I am a resident near the airport who loves planes and doesn't have any issues with them. But not all aircraft type should have an extended curfew.

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  • undertheradar


    8 Aug, 2013 01:39 pm

    the perils of having a 'city airport' ...everyone wants one for the 'convenience'...but no-one wants it (flight paths /traffic) in/over their 'backyard''s the same old argument with any other urban development.. it's the NOT IN MY STREET (or ELECTORATE) mentality that holds back much progress in oz..and btw, i live in wolli creek.near airport  (flight paths can affect me) and next to a busy highway (which doesnt 'shut down' at 11pm!!!  EVERY night i hear ambulance/fire/police... and i enjoy my time on my balcony or with my balcony doors open during warm summer nights... but i CHOSE to live here knowing about ALL the various noises that occur 24hrs a's CITY LIVING!!!

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  • lamn8r


    8 Aug, 2013 03:01 pm

    Agree with calls to lift all curfews.  As an international city and major gateway into Australia, the Sydney Airport should operate 24/7.  The airport has been there for decades so residents near the airport can't argue they didn't make an informed decision to move into the area.

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  • MartinS


    9 Aug, 2013 11:01 am

    The curfew is a hangover from a bygone age of noisy jets. The curfew reduces the services that can be offered and therefore the competition for the passenger's travel dollars. This reduces economic activity in Sydney and results in higher travel costs for Sydney-siders and those travelling here.

    The current curfew has a serious impact upon the services offered at Sydney, particularly late evening international departures (the curfew makes it very difficult to operate viable overnight flights to SE Asia) and late evening domestic arrivals (it is ridiculous that there can be no Sydney-bound departures from Melbourne after 9pm).

    The curfew should apply in respect of noisier aircraft, but all aircraft certified to Chapter 4 standards should be able to operate at Sydney Airport 24hours/day.

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  • madge


    9 Aug, 2013 11:59 am

    I agree that the curfew should be lifted, but not for all aircraft. Something akin to the LHR noise quota system would work better, so the quieter the aircraft, the more departures/arrivals allowed.

    But I do feel for some areas of Sydney. If you spend any time at the Ikea store in Tempe you really get a feel for how loud the noise is. On a recent visit, a QF 744 departed overhead and the noise was so great that you couldn't hear the person standing next to you. An A380 departing had nowhere near the same impact.

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  • rory delaney


    9 Aug, 2013 02:34 pm

    I live on the flight path of 16L/34R and 25/07. I love it. It does not bother me one bit about the aircraft noises taking off during the day and night. They should really lift the ban, honestly.

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    13 Aug, 2013 01:28 pm

    I live near the airport and love the airport noise - the more the better! I agree the curfew is a joke and should be reviewed. It is embarassing to the city and it is why Melbourne is benefiting. I can understand not having scheduled services between midnight and 4am, but the ridiculous rules when things happen that are not the airlines fault (i.e. weather) is beyond an embarassment. But waiting for the curfew to change is like waiting for someone to make a decision on a second airport.

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  • daniel bedford


    5 Oct, 2013 12:57 am

    Look, i understand people's fears about lifting the curfew as i am under the sydney flight path, but people need to remember 1. the curfew is hurting the airport and business and 2. the airport was built there long before most of the houses, they moved in next to the airport knowing what they were getting into. It was built in 1924 NOT LAST MONTH. You have moved next to it by choice. 

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20 Jul, 2019 07:27 am


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