Qantas responds to claims of Sydney ‘slot hoarding’

Qantas jets parked at Sydney Airport.
Bidgee, CC BY-SA 3.0 AU, via Wikimedia Commons
Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
4 Min Read

In recent times, there have been claims suggesting that Qantas is “hoarding” slots at Sydney Airport. In a statement posted to its website, Qantas refuted this claim and provided a substantiation of its present position at Sydney Airport.

As an airline with a strong presence in Sydney, Qantas is subject to the same rules that apply to all airlines operating at the airport.

These rules mandate airlines to operate at least 80% of their allocated slots to retain them. Qantas, state they surpass this threshold by operating over 90% of its allocated slots, indicating its commitment to utilizing these slots efficiently.

The Slot System and utilization

Sydney Airport’s slot system is independently managed, and the most recent data confirms that Qantas had 99% of its slots returned after the last completed season.

This in itself clearly demonstrates that Qantas is actively using its slots. When the airline doesn’t operate flights on particular slots, they are relinquished, emphasizing the airline’s adherence to the use-it-or-lose-it system.


Qantas pointed to its performance levels; notably the highest level of on-time performance among major domestic airlines for ten consecutive months. Additionally, it has recorded the lowest level of cancellations nationwide over the past twelve months.

A Qantas A350 parked at Sydney Airport
Photo: Airbus

Factors affecting cancellations

It’s important to note that the main factors influencing cancellations at Sydney Airport are predominantly weather-related and, to some extent, air traffic control staffing shortages.


In June alone, a combination of these factors led to a reduced capacity at the airport on 17 out of 30 days, causing significant delays and cancellations.

Challenges with airport movements

Sydney Airport is subject to legislation that limits the maximum number of movements (takeoffs and landings) per hour. Due to various factors, including weather and staffing constraints, the actual number of movements is often below the maximum limit.

This poses a challenge for the entire aviation industry, especially considering climate change’s potential to increase extreme weather events. A collaborative approach is needed to address these challenges and improve efficiency.

The Qantas Group supports the recommendations of the Harris Review, aimed at enhancing the airport’s efficiency. These improvements will benefit both the aviation industry and the traveling public by reducing delays and associated costs.

Cancellations on key domestic routes

Sydney Airport argues that cancellations on high-frequency domestic routes, such as Sydney to Melbourne, negatively impact the traveling public. In response, Qantas say that the reality is that such cancellations cause less disruption compared to routes with fewer daily flights, such as Sydney to Cairns.

Passengers on high-frequency routes can be reaccommodated more easily due to the availability of frequent services.

Domestic vs. International flights

Sydney Airport expresses the desire to see more international flights to increase revenue. While the Qantas Group’s domestic capacity at Sydney Airport is nearly at pre-COVID levels, international flights tend to generate more revenue for the airport.

Larger aircraft used for international routes can significantly contribute to the airport’s earnings, as these flights accommodate more passengers.


Qantas Domestic CEO, Andrew David, emphasized that the claim of Qantas hoarding slots at Sydney Airport is unfounded. He highlights the “use-it-or-lose-it” nature of the slot system and suggests that frustration from the airport may stem from the desire to increase revenue.

Qantas says that it is open to collaborative efforts with Sydney Airport to address the primary concern of time lost to weather delays, which impacts all carriers.

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