Reforming Sydney Airport slots to boost efficiency, competition and consumers outcomes

The Australian Government is today announcing a major package of reforms to the Sydney Airport demand management scheme, improving the use of this significant piece of national infrastructure while maintaining community protections.

These reforms follow an extensive consultation process and will deliver better efficiency, competition and consumer outcomes.

The Government is not making any changes to the existing curfew arrangements or movement caps at Sydney Airport.

To encourage competition, the Government will update the demand management system so that it better aligns with modern international standards.

The Government will significantly increase transparency about how slots are allocated. Airlines will be required to provide regular information on how they use slots, such as reasons for cancellations or major delays, and this monitoring information will be regularly published.

Independent audits of slot usage will be undertaken, with results published, to better detect and crack down on anti-competitive behaviour. This will help make sure that travellers have better information about airline performance.

The first such audit will be carried out this year, meaning that any misuse of slots will be uncovered and acted upon as soon as possible.

To ensure slots are not misused, the Government will modernise the compliance regime to include penalties that address anti‑competitive behaviours, along with updated and strengthened enforcement tools for the Government to watch airlines more closely and take effective legal action where necessary.

The Government is modernising the process that allocates aircraft slots to airlines at Sydney Airport to make the system more competitive and efficient. This will benefit new entrant airlines wanting to set up new services, crack down on slot misuse and create a more level playing field in slot allocation processes.

To improve connectivity for regional communities, regional NSW services will be able to apply to use any slot during new peak period hours (changing from 6‑11am/3-8pm to 7-11am/5-8pm), not just the slots that are already set aside for priority access by regional NSW services. The peak period is changing to help free up currently unused slots during 6-7am and 3-5pm so that the airport can better operate in the way it was always intended to.

In addition, when allocating slots to airlines, the Slot Manager will be required to consider giving priority to regional NSW airlines asking for peak period slots (7‑11am/5‑8pm) among the other priorities for slot allocation.

The Government is also going to introduce reforms that will increase the resilience of Sydney Airport and Australia’s entire aviation network by introducing a ‘recovery period’. This strictly controlled ‘recovery period’ will be implemented after severe weather events or other major disruptions, for example security issues, to temporarily allow up to 85 movements per hour for a maximum of two hours on the same day following the disruption.

There will be no increase in the overall number of flights for that whole day. This is because the scheduling cap of 80 flights per hour will stay in place – only flights that are already scheduled to happen that day will be able to take off or land.

This recovery period will not extend into curfew hours and there will be mandatory publication of information about when and why the recovery period is used so that the community can be confident it is being used properly.

This change will not increase noise impacts on communities, but it will mean more travellers can reach their destinations and spend the night at home rather than on a terminal floor or in a hotel room.

This package of reforms will benefit the flying public and include strong protections for communities affected by aircraft noise and those in regional areas.

The Government will be consulting with community and industry organisations on the best way to implement these reforms ahead of bringing forward legislation to Parliament.

This is just one element of the Australian Government’s plan to reform Australia’s aviation sector to crack down on bad behaviour and deliver better outcomes for the travelling public.

The Aviation White Paper, to be released later this year, will have more to say, including in regards to consumer protections.

For more information visit