Monday, April 04, 2011

Sydney airport deja vu

I'm sitting in my home office in Steamboat listening to the the radio from Australia on the internet.

The Australian Minister for Transport is currently talking about the need for a second airport in Sydney.

I have two words for him: Badgery's Creek.

That was the name of the second Sydney airport announced by the Australian Government in mid-1989. It was a political sop back then. I know this because I was part of the small team that put the proposal together to provide political cover to get approval to build a third runway at the real Sydney airport (whenever I land on 16L/34R, I like to think of it as "my runway").

It's still a sop now. There are very few cities that successfully run more than one major airport. New York, London, Tokyo, Paris and Chicago come to mind. All much bigger cities than Sydney.

One of the things the Minister was just rabbiting on about was that demand for slots exceeds supply. The best way to match supply and demand and to ensure a resource is allocated to its highest value use is via a very secret mechanism economists call price. In the context of airport slots that means auctioning slots off to the highest bidder. Of course that's not how it works. So I have zero sympathy for bleating about excess demand.

No comments: