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Sydney flights dogged by cancellations


Larissa Nicholson

Flights between Canberra and Sydney were cancelled more often in 2012 than those covering any other route in Australia, according to an industry performance report released on Thursday.

And flights operated by QantasLink, Qantas' regional brand, were cancelled more frequently than any other airline flying between Sydney and the capital.

Following the release of the report, Canberra Airport's managing director blamed congestion at Sydney Airport for the cancellations. Meanwhile, Minister for Infrastructure Anthony Albanese used Sydney Airport's below-average rate of on-time departures to emphasise the need for a second airport in the city.

''Four out of every 10 flights within Australia are in and out of Sydney Airport,'' Mr Albanese said.

''As the hub of the national aviation network, when Sydney is disrupted, the whole network is disrupted.''

Canberra Airport managing director Stephen Byron said generally the rate of flight cancellation was a measure of the quality for airlines, not airports.

''[Airlines] fly the aircraft, they fly the timetables, no doubt one way to make sure you're on time is the way you schedule planes, and they make those decisions,'' he said.

But Mr Byron said there was a problem with planes getting in and out of Sydney Airport.

''What the airlines do, is when flights run late they will cancel some flights and combine them at different times to catch up their schedule and that is what is happening between Canberra and Sydney,'' he said.

Mr Byron said if it were not for the flights to and from Sydney, Canberra Airport would have been one of the highest-performing in the country.

He said as the capacity of Canberra Airport continued to grow, it would naturally begin to take up Sydney Airport's overflow, and even more so if a high-speed rail link between the two cities was built.

He said despite Mr Albanese's statements to the contrary, a second airport in Sydney was unlikely as the only viable locations were in politically sensitive areas.

The statistical report published by the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics shows 4.7 per cent of flights from Canberra to Sydney were cancelled last year, and 4 per cent of scheduled flights from Sydney to Canberra never left the ground. Flights from Karratha to Perth were the next most cancelled, at 3.4 per cent.

More than 6 per cent of QantasLink flights from Sydney to Canberra were cancelled in 2012, double the cancellation rate of any of the other three airlines covering the route.

QantasLink had the greatest percentage of cancellations of all the participating airlines covering routes Australia-wide.

A spokeswoman for the company said there were many reasons flights were cancelled. ''Qantas is currently focusing on strategies to reduce the number of cancellations on QantasLink's Sydney-Canberra service,'' she said.

Mr Byron said Canberra Airport was scheduled in three weeks to open a new terminal that would increase its capacity to 8 million passengers a year.

''There will not be a lot more expansion required for Canberra to fulfil a role in overflowing … and gradually over time there will be more people using Canberra Airport,'' he said.


  • What about the fog, Mr Byron? Apparently the operators of Canberra Airport are the only people who don't know that fog causes cancellations here. About 2006 my flight from Sydney was cancelled due to fog in Canberra. Sydney was clear and sunny. I rented a car and drove home. On the car radio, as I got near the ACT, I heard Byron saying the cancellations were because of fog in Sydney. The ACT media should treat everything Canberra Airport says with a hefty dose of salt.

    Date and time
    February 22, 2013, 7:03AM
    • Agree with you, IrishPete! Sometimes you can't get out of Canberra for hours. Depends on the time of year, time of day etc as to the fog. We now catch a Murrays bus to Mascot international terminal if we aren't in a hurry rather than struggle over from the domestic. Flights to anywhere in Australia except Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane are rare out of Canberra anyway. Sydney is nearly as big a shambles as Heathrow. Time for a second airport!

      Date and time
      February 22, 2013, 9:48AM
      Comments are now closed

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