Sydney Airport has argued that the federal government's demands for it to bring forward the release of a plan about its future needs could result in it being rejected because of a lack of consultation.
In its latest clash with the federal Transport Minister, Anthony Albanese, the airport is appealing his decision that its draft master plan be completed a year earlier than scheduled.
The airport launched the legal proceedings against the minister in June, but has had to wait until Tuesday for the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in Sydney to begin hearing its case.
At the tribunal, the airport's counsel, Kevin Andronos, said the draft master plan could eventually be rejected by the minister if it was not given sufficient time to consult the public and other stakeholders.
"The irony is that [lack of consultation] would be grounds to refuse the plan," he said.
Furthermore, he said, a rejection of the plan would lead to further delays of the release of its 20-year vision.
Mr Andronos said the airport was required to undertake an extensive amount of consultation with the public, councils, community groups and users such as airlines.
He also argued that fierce debate about the need for a second airport in the Sydney basin – which led to the release of a joint study by federal and state authorities early this year – had clouded the minister's decision to speed up the master plan for Kingsford-Smith.
"Where and when to put the second Sydney airport has bled into the reasons for accelerating the master plan ... [but] they are two separate issues," he said.
Sydney Airport's lawyer also criticised some of the forecasts in the joint study concerning its ability to meet demand from passengers and airlines over the longer term.
He cited the study's conclusion that the airport would need an extra 25 aircraft parking aprons by 2015.
The Transport Minister wants the draft long-term plan for the airport to be on his desk by July 1 – a year earlier than expected. He makes the final decision on whether to approve or reject airport master plans.
The airport has been working towards completing its first version of the plan by the end of January, in the event that it is unsuccessful in its appeal.
The government's lawyers are due to make their opening statement to the tribunal shortly.