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Qantas responds to Sydney Airport’s “slot hoarding” accusations

Qantas has fired back at Sydney Airport’s claims of “slot hoarding,” stating that the airport is primarily interested in increasing its own revenue. The airport’s CEO, Geoff Culbert, has accused Qantas and Virgin Australia of holding onto more slots than necessary to prevent competitors like Bonza and Rex from gaining access.

Slots are time windows allocated to airlines for flying in and out of Sydney, and airlines are required to use their slots at least 80% of the time under current regulations.

Culbert argued that high cancellation rates and stagnant passenger growth on routes between Sydney-Melbourne and Sydney-Canberra demonstrate slot hoarding by major airlines. He suggested that these airlines should give up some slots to enable others to have better access.

In response, Qantas and Virgin Australia have denied the practice of slot hoarding. Qantas further accused Sydney Airport of being frustrated over lost revenue, pointing out that cancelled flights cost both the airport and the airline revenue, often due to weather-related reasons.

Qantas Domestic CEO Andrew David expressed a preference for working collaboratively with Sydney Airport on slot issues, especially considering the challenges the aviation industry has faced in recent years. He emphasized the need for slot system reform to address weather-related delays, which impact all carriers’ efficiency.

Qantas also dismissed Culbert’s claims that the airport wanted to allocate more slots to international airlines to foster competition. The airline highlighted the significance of international passengers in driving airport revenue, as they spend money on retail, food, and beverages at the terminal. Additionally, larger aircraft operating international flights bring in more revenue for the airport.

The federal government’s aviation white paper, set for release next year, is expected to examine the 80-flights-an-hour cap at Sydney Airport, which currently hinders recovery from disruptions.