Sydney could be unlivable for thousands
It's a fact known to residents in Sydney's Inner West that if you need to wake early, there's no point setting an alarm - the mighty roar from Emirates' A380 as it takes off from Sydney for Dubai at 6am is more than enough to do the job.
But the thousands who live under the flight paths of Australia's busiest airport have at least been reassured a strict curfew stopped planes from landing or departing during the bedtime hours between 11pm and 6am.
So many of those people are now calling out a new report suggesting the curfew and aircraft movement caps on the aircraft actually created more noise, not less.
In its draft report on the economic regulation of Australian airports, out today, the Productivity Commission said Sydney Airport's cap on aircraft movements, which is limited to 80 each hour, and its 11pm-6am curfew were "unnecessarily restrictive" and could also compound delays.
The commission did not call for current arrangements to be scrapped but pointed out aircraft arriving earlier than scheduled were forced to spend long periods circling above the airport while waiting to land, creating "unintended noise" for the residents living near the airport, as well as extra emissions and unnecessary fuel burn.
"The movement cap and curfew sometimes result in more noise and emissions, in spite of their noise reduction objective," the report said.
"The objective of managing the effect of aircraft noise on local residents should be balanced with reforms that benefit the community at large, including through improvements to the efficiency of Sydney Airport."
It added the movement cap, which was measured every 15 minutes, and the curfew "exacerbated delays" at times of unexpected incidents, such as bad weather.
"Delays that lead to congestion, particularly during peak periods, can force some aircraft to wait on the ground or in the air until the next 15-minute rolling hour before they are allowed to take off or land in order to avoid breaching the movement cap," the report said.
"Aircraft movements can be prohibited entirely when delays stretch toward the curfew period. "Delays interfere with passengers' schedules, create costs for airlines and have flow-on effects for Australia's aviation network more broadly due to the high number of aircraft that pass through Sydney Airport."
The commission suggested the aircraft movement cap could be measured over a longer period of the day, such as an average of 80 movements every four hours, to allow the airport to bounce back quicker from delays and reduce the noise of planes in holding patterns in the air.
It also said aircraft movements could be capped according to the amount of noise made by each aircraft.
Many of those living under or close to the airport's flight paths said ditching the curfew would simply mean more noise while most were trying to sleep.
"The big thing for me would be to find a way to minimise the noise, and the best way to do that is to utilise the bay (Botany Bay) for takeoffs and landings," Ray, who lives in Tempe, next to the airport, told news.com.au.
"As long as those planes land from the bay between 11pm and 6am, that would reduce the noise, and usually any plane that's circling is high enough to not be heard. I can see them circling from my backyard."
In its submission to the Productivity Commission last year, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said the curfew and movement caps were likely to be contributing to congestion chaos at Sydney Airport.
The ACCC said they should be regularly reviewed to ensure they were appropriate and reflected technological advances that reduced aircraft noise.
Airport and transport lobby groups have been calling for the curfew at Sydney Airport to be relaxed.
Elsewhere in the report, the Productivity Commission defended the cost of parking at Australian airports, despite complaints by passengers the cost of airport parking often exceeded that of an airline ticket.
The commission is seeking feedback on the draft report and is expected to make a recommendation in its final report, which is due to be handed to the Federal Government in June.