Aeria Management Group (AMG), which operates Bankstown and Camden airports, last week called on the Federal Government to compensate operators in the Sydney basin for an estimated 20% loss of business after Western Sydney Airport (WSA) begins operations in 2026.
The call came in AMG's submission to the WSA Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), noting that the proposed airspace design will increase training flight times and compliance costs for operators, and result in a decrease in aviation safety.
“Changes to airspace, flight paths and regulations due to the commencement of WSI will have significant impacts on existing operations and growth at Bankstown Airport and Camden Airport, with flow-on consequences for Australia’s aviation industry, economy and workforce,” said AMG CEO Daniel Jarosch.
“Government funding and reforms to reduce such safety risks and economic impacts are essential to securing the critical supply of pilots to meet growing global demand.”
AMG believes that increased training costs will cause students to move elsewhere and could result in some business shuttering their training schools, or leaving Bankstown and Camden for cheaper locations in Australia or overseas.
"AMG is calling on government funding to support impacted businesses, including investment incentives to expand essential general aviation services at Camden Airport," said Jarosch.
AMG also believes the economic impact used in the EIS falls short of the real numbers, a position backed up by the General Aviation Advisory Network (GAAN), which provides advice to Minister Catherine King.
"The EIS rightly acknowledges that there will be a significant economic impact on GA in the Sydney Basin, particularly on flight training schools at Bankstown Airport," Jarosch stated. "However, the assessment in the EIS substantially understates the scope and scale of such operational and economic impacts.
"This submission is informed by quantitative and qualitative research, including insights from GA operators and industry experts and preliminary assessments of the economic impacts of changes related to WSI and the prospect for expanded GA operations at Camden Airport."
Much of the economic impact comes from the loss of the training area, which was 7 nm from Bankstown. The proposed new southern training area set down in the airspace design is 18 nm away, resulting in a greater transit time and an increase in the standard flying lesson from one hour to 80 minutes for recreational pilots.
AMG commissioned Urbis to provide a preliminary economic impact analysis, which estimates that costs to GA operations and related aviation services at BK and CN after WSA begins operations will be approximately $76.2 million in 2026–more than five times the figure in the EIS–growing to $102 million per year by 2055.
"With $450 million invested in our general aviation airport precincts since 2015 and a further $200 million in the forward investment pipeline, AMG is committed to the continued sustainable growth and evolution of Bankstown Airport and Camden Airport and GA operations and services more broadly to meet current and future aviation needs," Jarosch said.
"Proposed changes to airspace, flight paths and regulations due to the commencement of WSI will have a significant impact on existing operations and future investment and aviation growth at Bankstown Airport and Camden Airport, with flow-on effects for Australia’s aviation industry, economy and workforce."
AMG also believes the loss of Class G airspace surrounding Sydney and the introduction of Class D+ will force some aircraft owners to upgrade avionics to comply with the regulations relating to CTA.
Public consultation on the EIS opened on 24 October 2023 and closed on 31 January 2024.