Will Brisbane airport’s new parallel runway system make it one of the highest-capacity airports in Australasia?

By Louise Evans and James Lane

The Statement

“That will make Brisbane one of the highest capacity airports in Australasia.”

Brisbane Airport executive general manager of aviation development Jim Parashos. June 4, 2019.

The Analysis

The Brisbane airport 2020 preliminary draft master plan outlines a multi-billion dollar expansion and includes a new parallel north-south runway due to open next year. Brisbane Airport executive general manager of aviation development Jim Parashos said the new runway system would allow capacity to double, transforming the airport into one of Australasia’s busiest. [1]

AAP FactCheck examined Mr Parashos’ claim that the new runway system will make Brisbane “one of the highest capacity airports in Australasia”.

Mr Parashos told AAP FactCheck his claim about capacity was based on aircraft movement figures and that the increased capacity of the new runway would “put Brisbane up with (Singapore’s) Changi and Hong Kong“.

According to the Brisbane Airport 2020 Preliminary Draft Master Plan, which opened for public comment on May 27, 2019, annual aircraft movements at Brisbane airport are forecast to rise significantly with the airport’s expansion, increasing from over 213,000 in 2017-18 to almost 380,000 movements in 2039-40. [2]

The master plan states the new runway system will reach peak operating capacity by the mid-2050s when annual aircraft movements will rise to between 450,000 and 500,000. [3] This means Brisbane airport would more than double capacity over the next three decades from 213,000 aircraft movements in 2018 to up to 500,000 by 2050.

The master plan states the airport will operate 365 days a year, 24 hours a day with no night-time curfew. [4] It anticipates the parallel runway system will be able to sustain an hourly rate of 100 to 110 aircraft movements per hour over the morning and evening three to four-hour peak demand periods. [5]

Data from Airservices Australia, the national air navigation service provider, shows it could take Brisbane about two decades before it will overtake Sydney’s 2018 figure for aircraft movements. [6] Brisbane is estimated to reach 380,000 movements in 2039-40. [2]

Airservices Australia shows the nation’s busiest airport in 2018 was Sydney with 349,974 aircraft movements, then Bankstown in Sydney’s south west with 269,646, followed by Moorabbin outside of Melbourne 265,586, then Melbourne 245,766, Parafield in Adelaide 239,510 and Brisbane with 212,006. [6]

According to data from the Centre for Aviation (CAPA), a global aviation news and data analysis and research centre, aircraft movements for 2018 at Hong Kong and Singapore airports already outstrip Brisbane’s future predicted aircraft movements. According to CAPA, Hong Kong airport handled 428,000 aircraft movements for 2018, a figure Brisbane is estimated to overtake by 2050. CAPA reported Singapore handled 386,000 aircraft movements in 2018, a figure Brisbane is estimated to match by 2039-40. [7]

There are four Asian airports on the top 20 list of the world’s busiest airports for aircraft movements, three in China - Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou - and then Tokyo, in that order. Data from Airports Council International (ACI), the global trade representative for world airport authorities, lists Atlanta as the world’s busiest airport with 879,560 take-offs and landings, Beijing was fifth with 597,259 aircraft movements, Shanghai was 10th with 496,774, Guangzhou 15th with 465,295, and Tokyo comes in at 18th with 453,126. Brisbane airport’s master plan estimates it will match these Asian airport 2017 figures by 2050. [8]

The ACI forecasts that the US, China and India are predicted to be the leading markets for aircraft movements by 2040, respectively hosting 21 per cent, 16 per cent and four per cent of global aircraft movements. The ACI’s World Airport Traffic Forecast states emerging and developing economies will drive global growth. [9] The ACI also predicts China’s aviation market share of aircraft movements will rise from 10.7 per cent in 2017 to 16.1 per cent in 2040. [10]

Based on this evidence AAP FactCheck finds Mr Parashos’ claim that the new runway system will make Brisbane airport “one of the highest capacity airports in Australasia” to be false because he’s benchmarking Brisbane’s future estimates for aircraft movements up until 2050 against 2017 and 2018 figures for other Asian ports. The evidence shows other Asian airports will also continue to grow in capacity over the next three decades. Brisbane Airport’s own estimates show it will take about two decades to overtake Sydney airport’s 2018 figure for aircraft movements.

The Verdict

  • False - The checkable claim is false.

The References

1. ‘Brisbane Airport announces draft master plan’, by Nic Darveniza, The Courier-Mail. June 4, 2019:https://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/brisbane-airport-announces-draft-master-plan/news-story/933a1fc3f3cc4c7b33f8c547fe6fbe8c

2. ‘Annual Aircraft Movements Forecast’, Brisbane Airport 2020 Preliminary Draft Master Plan. 2019. (Page 189 and 191): https://www.bne.com.au/sites/default/files/no-index/Brisbane-Airport-2020-Preliminary-Draft-Master-Plan.pdf

3. ‘Forecast Peak Period Demand’, Brisbane Airport 2020 Preliminary Draft Master Plan. 2019. Page 194: https://www.bne.com.au/sites/default/files/no-index/Brisbane-Airport-2020-Preliminary-Draft-Master-Plan.pdf

4. ‘Key Strengths of Brisbane Airport’. Brisbane Airport 2020 Preliminary Draft Master Plan. 2019. Page 35: https://www.bne.com.au/sites/default/files/no-index/Brisbane-Airport-2020-Preliminary-Draft-Master-Plan.pdf

5. ‘Parallel Runway System Operation’, Brisbane Airport 2020 Preliminary Draft Master Plan. 2019. Page 242: https://www.bne.com.au/sites/default/files/no-index/Brisbane-Airport-2020-Preliminary-Draft-Master-Plan.pdf

6. ‘Movements at Australian airports, 2018 Calendar Year Total’. Air Services Australia: http://www.airservicesaustralia.com/wp-content/uploads/Airport-Movement-Calendar-YTD-November-2018.pdf

7. ‘Cathay Pacific outlook: HK Express & runway 3 are golden opportunities’. CAPA - Centre for Aviation. March 29, 2019: https://centreforaviation.com/analysis/reports/cathay-pacific-outlook-hk-express--runway-3-are-golden-opportunities-465364

8. ‘Top 20 airports, Airport Ranking by Movements, 2017 Final (Annual). Airports Council International. Updated January 8, 2019: https://aci.aero/data-centre/annual-traffic-data/aircraft-movements/2017-aircraft-movements-annual-traffic-data/

9. ‘Annual World Airport Traffic Forecasts 2018– 2040’ Changing Aviation Market Shares over time’. ACI. November 1, 2018: https://aci.aero/news/2018/11/01/acis-world-airport-traffic-forecast-reveals-emerging-and-developing-economies-will-drive-global-growth/

10. ‘Annual World Airport Traffic Forecasts 2018– 2040’. ACI October 2018: https://aci.aero/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/WATR_WATF_Infographic_Web.pdf

  • First published June 5, 2019 16:40 AEST