Sydney Airport Should Open More Route Slots, Says Virgin Australia CEO

20th Oct 2016

Australian living in regional towns and cities are missing out on better schedules and cheaper fares all because Sydney Airport is not offering enough slots for regional routes, claims Virgin Australia Chief Executive Officer John Borghetti.

According to Mr. Borghetti, VA wanted to open new routes to Wagga Wagga and Dubbo and add more flights to Tamworth, but couldn't because there were not enough slots at Sydney Airport.

Mr. Borghetti said:

"The only slots that are available at Sydney airport for regional services are in the middle of the day or late morning. You want to be able to fly there in the morning and come back at night, just like you can to Melbourne and Sydney."

Virgin did secure two flights per day from Tamworth, but will soon have to reduce them to only one flight a day at 3:00 pm, Mr Borghetti added.

He also said:

"So we've been fighting now for 12 months to get more [slots]. It's a big frustration, a huge frustration, [and] something has to be done at Sydney Airport. The commercial impact is that if we can't operate the aeroplanes, we can't make money."

Borghetti added:

"But more important than that, it's depriving regional Australia of competitive airfares, better scheduling and frankly, growth. So it's a much bigger picture of just the airline, it's a regional Australia issue."

Virgin Australia boss also pointed out that many airlines lost their regional slots if they temporarily used them to fly to an interstate destination, calling this a "crazy thing". He said that slots for available routes are today lower than 10 years ago, with the prospect of further declining.

VA CEO concluded:

"So here we are in a situation where regional Australia is effectively impacted by the fact by the slots are diminishing in number as airlines change to bigger gauge aircraft for a particular peak period and then can't change it back."

At the moment, the limit on landings and departures from Sydney Airport is 80 per hour. This is regulated by the state government.