The Airservices mandate is a straightforward one. We are charged with ensuring the safe, reliable and efficient use of airspace for all users through the provision of services that are valued by the industry.
In 2019-20, we delivered on that mandate to a standard of excellence, every day, without exception. For the fourth year in a row we recorded zero significant attributable safety occurrences, further proving that Australia sets the global benchmark for aviation safety standards.
During a disruptive year, our air traffic management staff safely handled more than 3.5 million aircraft movements and our fire fighters saved 11 lives. Our Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate continued to trend downwards, returning the strongest result for Airservices in the past five years.
We achieved these exceptional safety outcomes despite the well-documented challenges in the external environment. We were proud to support Australia’s co-ordinated response to the bushfire emergency of late 2019 and early 2020, committing 17 specialist vehicles and more than 200 fire fighters from across Australia to multi-agency fire control and recovery efforts.
Importantly, we provided this aid without any interruption to the exceptional day-to-day service delivery our airline customers have come to expect, both in the sky and on the ground.
Throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we have maintained our dual focus on safe and continuous service provision and the protection of the health and wellbeing of our people. Critically, we have also moved quickly to reduce our operating costs to a minimal but sustainable level, identifying savings of more than $30m in the final quarter of the reporting period alone.
These cost reduction initiatives and other efficiency measures are ongoing as we continue to provide our customers with value at a time when they need it the most.
Of course, our focus on financial sustainability is balanced with the work we need to prepare for the aviation ecosystem of the future. Our mandate is to facilitate safe and efficient airspace access for all users, a responsibility that starts at ground level and has no upper limit.
Demand for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and other new technologies for access to our airspace has never been higher, and we are working with government and industry partners to facilitate their safe and productive integration with conventional airspace users.
This reporting period, we successfully completed the first pilot of our UAV Integration and Management Services Program, which involved installing specialist surveillance equipment at our 29 air traffic control towers around the country in conjunction with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority. This will act as the foundation for a sophisticated drone surveillance platform and allow us to improve safety outcomes around our airports as we welcome these new entrants to our skies.
Meanwhile, we reached several critical milestones in the OneSKY Program over the course of the reporting period as we work collaboratively with Defence to deliver Australia’s air traffic management system of the future.
Construction of the two new air traffic service centres required to support OneSKY in Brisbane and Melbourne has progressed significantly over the past 12 months, despite the supply chain and logistical challenges posed by the bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year we also made significant progress in our Airspace Modernisation Program, receiving regulatory approval to lower Class E airspace nationally and conduct a 12-month trial of Class E steps at Ayers Rock. This program will be key to unlocking the $1.2 billion in benefits OneSKY will deliver to industry over the next 20 years.
The work we do to support the development of Australia’s airports also yielded results in this reporting period. New runways were commissioned at Brisbane and Sunshine Coast Airports, marking the culmination of multi-year projects to design airspace and support other infrastructure requirements. This included the opening of a new fire station at Brisbane Airport.
Last but not least, this year, we made substantial progress toward our commitment to building a safe and inclusive workplace underpinned by a culture of trust, care, and accountability.
Most significantly, Elizabeth Broderick & Co delivered the final report into their review of Airservices workplace culture in May 2020. We are on track with the implementation of the subsequent action plan, which outlines the key steps we will take to achieve our target culture.
The 2019-20 Airservices Annual Report is a reflection of a challenging year for Australia’s aviation industry. Nonetheless, we are proud of what we have achieved and the work we have completed to prepare for the road that lies ahead.