Sunday, May 9, 1999

Airport not at full flight yet (The Sunday Mail)

IF there is an area where the Sydney Olympics 2000 may encounter problems
in is their airport in handling the influx of athletes, officials, media
personnel and visitors during the Games.
The Sydney Airport is comparatively small and whether it can handle the
bumper influx into the Australian capital is left to be seen.
However, works are well underway in their enhancement expansion
programme, which costs A$365 million (about RM876 million) and is due for
completion early next year.
Among the features in the expansion programme are:
* A GREATER variety of retail shops;
* MORE check-in counters and baggage carousels;
* IMPROVED signages both in and around the airport;
* PLUSH interior design to welcome visitors;
* ADDITIONAL seating;
* MORE aircraft parking bays;
* AN easy access roadway in and out of the Airport;
* BIGGER and better taxi area; and
* SHELTERED waiting areas for buses and shuttles.
At the moment, there are 24 aircraft parking bays and the building of
additional bays is absolutely necessary.
The major question as to whether the airport will be able to cope during
the Olympics is its curfew time from 11pm to 6am daily because it is
located in a residential area.
With the closure of the airport during these hours, it could well cause
a heavy traffic in-flow when the airport opens in the morning.
The arrival schedule could well go haywire because of the heavy traffic.
And even if the airport authorities can cope with the flow, the ground
handling of baggage, immigration clearance and transporting the athletes
to the Games Village will pose a challenge.
There have been suggestions that the curfew be lifted to facilitate the
arrival of the Olympic athletes but it has been met with strong objections
and is therefore unlikely the curfew will be lifted.
But Scoot Crebin, co-ordinator and media information manager for the
Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympics Games (SOCOG), said they are
confident that they will not encounter any problems.
However, he admitted the curfew hours were discussed and whether they
could be lifted was left to be seen.
"But we are confident we can still manage with the airport closed from
11pm to 6am," said Crebin.
"Philip Cash, the Sydney airport manager for the Olympics, has a
strategy all worked out and we are confident that everything will go on
without a hitch."
Crebin added the entry of the Olympic athletes is going to be staggered
and through various entry points.
"For instance, the British contingent will be flying in through Brisbane
where they will set up their training camp prior to the Games.
"Likewise, we expect many more countries to come through the various
entry points apart from Sydney."
While all the other facilities for the Games will undergo a series of
test events in the run-up to the Olympics, there will be difficulty in
assessing the real situation at the airport once the Games' contingents
start arriving.
SOCOG will conduct the test events and will be sharing joint
responsibility with the relevant national federations in organising them.
The purpose of these tournaments is to test out the Olympic competition
venues, to train technical officials and volunteers who will help conduct
events at the Olympics and serve as a trial run for accreditation,
transport, security, broadcasting, media and other services.

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