Ever wondered why your plane always lands in Sydney in the wee hours of the morning? That’s because Sydney Airport has a government-mandated curfew between 11pm and 6am every day. The curfew effectively prohibits aircraft from landing between these times and flights that land in Sydney are scheduled around this embargo. While most movement is prohibited, take-offs and landings are allowed on a limited number of emergency aircraft, some small jets, propeller-driven aircraft and freight. According to the Sydney Airport Curfew Factsheet, these amount to around eight aircraft movements per night during curfew hours.
What’s the point of the curfew? It’s been put in place to minimise the effect of aircraft noise on residents in nearby areas. And Sydney isn’t the only city with an airport curfew, the same restrictions apply to three other places — Adelaide, Gold Coast and Essendon Fields Airports. The Sydney Airport Curfew Act 1995 was passed in 1995 and has been in place since then.
Sydney Airport Curfew
According to the curfew rules, along with the evening shutdown, airport movements are capped at 80 arrivals and departures per hour, measured every 15 minutes. The act essentially seeks to reduce aircraft noise due to complaints by residents in the area.
And in case you were wondering what happens if an airline was to break curfew, there’s a fine of A$550,000 in place and so far, has been levied against four airlines for breaking the rules.
While the curfew has attracted some debate over the years, a second Sydney Airport — the Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport is underway and on track to open to passengers in 2026. And it is set to be a 24/7 curfew-free airport with international, domestic and freight services — the first in New South Wales with no curfew.
Keen to learn more about the Curfew at Sydney Airport? There’s an entire fact sheet available here.