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Thursday, 20 June 2013
Page: 6551

Mr RANDALL (Canning) (16:50): I wish to raise the issue of the sorry state of Perth airport. It is unfortunate that I am raising this issue again, because in 2009 I spoke of the many problems at Perth airport and, sadly, many of those issues still remain. I have raised some of the issues many times before in this place, so I will not go over all the same details.

Recently, we have seen The West Australian reporting on the matter of fog causing delays at Perth airport:

Low visibility caused airport chaos overnight diversions and long delays for takeoff for many international flights.

…   …   …

The Emirates 777 is fitted with full auto land capability but Perth Airport does not have the same capability or the high intensity lighting required.

In April we saw the same chaos with delays being caused at both the international and domestic terminals due to these foggy conditions.

As reported in The West Australian on 11 June this year, the airport only has a CAT-I instrument landing system, which requires pilots to be able to see 800 metres horizontally and 61 metres vertically. Upgrading to a CAT-IIIB system would allow pilots to land if they could see 50 metres horizontally and 15 metres vertically. But this is only the start of some of the problems.

The third, or parallel, runway has been delayed and there is the constant parking of planes on aprons around the airport. In fact the parking facilities around the airport are crowded and diminishing. Many departing and arriving flights do not have flight bridges for passengers to disembark, including those with full service cost flights. Many of the passengers have to walk across the tarmac in all weather conditions for a long distance, as I probably will when I arrive at the airport tonight. The lack of convenient parking is an issue, and passengers are often sitting on floors as they wait to board their flights. The ACCC recently described this as the second-worst airport in Australia.

The Emirates A380 cannot land at Perth airport because it does not have the necessary flight bridges. These things combined are holding back tourism, Perth's strong mining economy and the WA economy in general. The relationship between Qantas and Emirates is such that they would love to fly A380s into Perth because we have a burgeoning and growing international sector out of Perth. However, if you have ever embarked on a plane out of Perth, you would know that you have to walk down old steps that were probably there during the days of the America's Cup, when Bob Hawke was Prime Minister, and you would realise that lumping your bags down onto the plane is rather antiquated. Given the fact that the A380 needs two modern flight bridges to disembark a plane, this is not able to be done. I know Qantas is extremely annoyed and, as I said, it is holding back tourism and the whole development of the Western Australian economy in a range of ways.

Perth airport's chief executive, Brad Geatches, keeps saying that they have been discussing things with the airlines, particularly the runway and the fog issues. But they are continuing; he just keeps talking about these things and we keep getting press releases. There are probably more spin doctors employed in the Westralia Airports Corporation than there are technocrats. Planning for these new facilities should be the responsibility of the airport, not the airlines. This view is backed by Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, who has stated there is a problem with airport infrastructure in Perth. As I said, Perth airport has recently missed a critical deadline in regard to getting on with the building of the third, or parallel, runway. The state Minister for Transport Troy Buswell said that discussions between Perth airport and airlines should have been completed by April, but Mr Geatches tells us that they are continuing.

Many of my constituents are plagued by airport noise due to the increased air traffic and flight path changes. Perth airport has a larger footprint than Sydney airport. For example, Sydney airport is 907 hectares and Perth is 2,100 hectares. There is the capacity. It is hard to fathom what is really holding it back. It really is the parsimonious nature of the Westralian Airports Corporation, who need to revise the master plan and modernise it. I say categorically that, should we be fortunate enough to be the government later this year, I will strongly urge the minister for transport if it is Warren Truss to look at the Western Australian lease arrangements in terms of their compliance. He will need to look, review and modernise these arrangements in view of making a better master plan that serves Western Australian constituents. (Time expired)