Australian Airports Association's concerns for Monarto airport proposal

A proposed freight airport at Monarto could threaten current facilities at Adelaide Airport and have a negative impact on future investment plans, according to the Australian Airports Association (AAA).

AAA, the national industry voice for 260 airports and aerodromes in Australia, wrote to the state government on February 10 and said it had not been consulted on the proposal.

Two weeks ago, Opposition Leader Steven Marshall committed $20 million to investigate the need for a freight-only, 24-hour airport at Monarto, and a road and bypass of the Adelaide Hills.

At the time, Mr Marshall said the airport would benefit the state’s economy.

“A generational upgrade of our freight export is needed to provide our companies with the competitive advantage they need to get premium products to markets across the globe,” he said.

Labor were quick to oppose the proposal and released the letter from the AAA earlier today.

In the letter, AAA Chief Executive Officer Caroline Wilkie wrote that airlines relied on both passenger and cargo revenues for route viability.

“Due to the small volumes involved, air freight is ideally suited for carriage in passenger aircraft,” she said.

“The majority of freight is carried in the cargo hold of passenger aircraft and the major air freight handling facilities are co-located with passenger operations at major airports.”

She said the Monarto proposal could have a negative impact on investments already put into the Adelaide Airport.

“There has been considerable investment in and around Adelaide Airport, improving access to the airport as well as passenger and freight services,” she said.

“The AAA is concerned the uncertainty from consideration of another airport would have a negative impact on facilities… and future investments plans.”

Currently, the curfew on passenger services at Adelaide Airport is between 11pm and 6am.

Ms Wilkie said she understood the curfew was not unduly delaying air freight as some freight-only movements had already been permitted.

She said if evidence proved the current curfew was having a negative impact on aviation operations in South Australia, the AAA would support a review on the impact.

Minister for Investment and Trade Martin Hamilton-Smith said the AAA’s letter highlighted the lack of consultation on the proposal, its threat to current facilities and the negative impact it could have on future investment plans.

“It points out that air freight is a tiny fraction of Australia’s freight sector, accounting for zero point one percent if Australia’s international freight by weight.

“In order to preserve the future of current businesses and future investments and jobs at Adelaide Airport, the Opposition Leader must immediately wipe the Mirage from his policy desert.”

“Until he does the jobs of 12,000 workers at Adelaide and Parafield Airports will be unnecessarily put at risk,” he said.