An address to the Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies (ITLS) today showed that Sydney has much in common with London when it comes to airport congestion.

Speaking at ITLS, Professor Sveinn Gudmundsson, from the ToulouseBusinessSchool in southern France, showed how “spillover” effects give us increased understanding of how the air transport system scales to meet demand.

Scaling can be achieved by adding capacity, finding efficiencies and/or shifting traffic to another airport.

In London the options surrounding a constrained Heathrow include building a completely new airport, adding another runway at LHR or Stanstad and making more use of ‘regional’ airports.

Over there those regional airports might be as far away as Manchester, which could be connected to the capital by a high-speed train that would take only 65 minutes.

Studies of current spillover practices reveal that Gatwick is the favoured option for airlines, making it the most likely site for a new airport if that option is selected.

Maybe we haven’t reached that level of congestion at Sydney which generates a spillover phenomenon, but there’s food for thought.

The acceptance of a fast hour’s ride between Manchester and London also lends some weight to CanberraAirport’s Stephen Byron’s plan for a high-speed rail link between there and Sydney – so don’t give up yet Stephen.

The other highlights of this morning’s presentation included analysis of just how people travel to and from London’s airports, including Heathrow.

Despite all the talk of public transport efficiencies as the solution to access congestion, the fact is that 67 per cent of people still travel to and from those airports by car.

Another 16 per cent use a taxi, only eight per cent take a train and five per cent hop on a bus.

And the number of passengers carried per aircraft movement at Heathrow has climbed from around 120 in 1993 to 148 in 2012; and that has, of course, been achieved by use of bigger aircraft and higher loads.


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