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Capacity at Sydney Airport is heading fast towards breaking point, as increased activity will reach current curfews of 80 flights per-hour within a decade. It's predicted that daily movements will reach a maximum of 70 per-hour by 2015, and 80 per-hour by 2019.
A report from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics reveals that the airport will hit this limit long before alternative methods, such as a second airport in Sydney or high-speed rail, can possibly be implemented. If this is the case, the Government will be forced to alter current curfew laws.
Airlines have been protesting laws capping flight activity for years now, though to increase flight activity would inevitably create a serious political backlash from local citizens for those in power.
Along with the per-hour cap, planes are currently unable to arrive or depart Sydney Airport from 11 PM to 6 AM, though in some cases permission has been given for aircraft flying before midnight and after 5 AM.
If the level of activity at Sydney Airport increases without pressure being eased soon, the airport will be under a serious amount of stress. At present, delays due to storms or technical problems can mean airlines miss the strictly enforced curfew, and passengers are forced to wait a further seven hours for their flight.
Even if the curfew is relaxed, expansion of some kind in Sydney will still eventually be needed. No concrete plan for a second Sydney airport is currently on the table. A government feasibility study into high-speed rail is set to determine possible routes, stations and costing by July 2011.