Since the completion of the New Parallel Runway at Brisbane Airport, an increase in excessive flight noise from arriving and departing planes has affected thousands of Brisbane residents. Something needs to be done to reduce this noise pollution, with a more sustainable way of managing Brisbane Airport. Even if you're not directly affected by the noise, it's an insight into the power that big corporations wield over our lives, and how our system allows them to do so.
Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) has produced a flight path design and operational model that maximises profit at the expense of people, without proper oversight by regulators or the Federal Government. Airservices Australia has completely catered to BAC despite being intended as an impartial regulator.
Brisbane Airport has one of the worst noise abatement plans in the developed world. It has no curfew, like Sydney Airport, and is run to maximise profits at the expense of residents and the environment. BAC is exempt from state-level noise pollution laws, so we need Federal-level legislation to regulate it and mandate restrictions on the flight noise.
Here are some of the changes we have been proposing:
- Airservices Australia and BAC need to undertake a complete redesign of the flight path operations at Brisbane Airport. This must be done to ensure a total reduction in the number of flights and their frequency of departure and arrival over our suburbs. The new model should follow international best practice for noise abatement. This solution will almost certainly involve more flights departing and arriving over the bay.
- A new Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the second runway, that is produced with real community consultation, not just people within a 5km radius of the Airport.
- A complete overhaul of our regulators, and investing in transport modes that aren't so destructive to people's lives and the climate. We need to overhaul Airservices Australia, convert it into an independent statutory authority and roll back the corporatisation carried out by the Howard Government. Rather than operating on public funding, Airservices Australia relies on fees paid by private airline corporations like Qantas and Virgin - creating a conflict of interest in increasing the profitability of those private corporations.
BAC has previously said that it expected annual passenger traffic would more than double from 22 million in 2014 to 50 million by 2034. It also forecast that the number of annual individual flights would grow from 227,000 in 2019 to 360,000 by 2035 and 500,000 by 2045. It's completely unsustainable in terms of the local air and noise pollution as well as the carbon emissions which contribute to climate change.
In 2019, the Greens announced their plan to fund a publicly owned version of a high-speed rail network along the east coast. By high-speed rail, the travel time between Brisbane and Sydney would be 2hrs 37min. While the current flight travel time is 1hr 30min, taking into account security and check-in, the travel time is similar.
Brisbane to Sydney is currently the 8th busiest domestic flight route in the world - so the difference made by a cheaper alternative with similar travel time would be significant. The initial investment required to start the high-speed rail link would be $1.6 billion, and could be funded by our plans to tax the developers, billionaires and big corporations who haven't been paying their fair share towards improving our country's infrastructure.
In 2018, before the pandemic, the four major privately owned airport corporations, including Brisbane, made a combined profit of $757.6 million - up 9%. Similar profits will return as restrictions are reduced. We shouldn't let the profits of these private corporations get in the way of a better future for all of us.