Adelaide Airport is situated within a highly urbanised area surrounded by a mix of residential, recreational, and industrial land uses, as well as with three major state-controlled roads. Air quality in the western Adelaide airshed has been monitored by the South Australian Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) for more than a decade at a site adjacent to the airport in the suburb of Netley.

Adelaide and South Australia’s air quality is considered good and improving.1

AAL is responsible for the management of air emissions from ground-based activities at Adelaide Airport. This covers activities such as refuelling, painting, cleaning, machining, mechanical maintenance, generator use, commercial cooking and construction. There are a variety of parties who play a role in managing and regulating air quality in the aviation industry, outlined in the table below.

AAL recognises the need for the airport to assist in managing air quality enquiries on behalf of surrounding communities by working closely with airlines and regulatory bodies.




Airlines purchase and maintain particular types of aircraft which are suitable for the routes they fly into or out of Adelaide Airport.

Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA)

CASA is responsible for regulation and ensuring safe operation of civil aviation in Australia. CASA is responsible for approving the use of new aircraft types in Australia.

Airservices Australia

Airservices manages the airspace around Australia to maintain control over the movement of aircraft into, and out of, airports in Australia.

Airservices also designs and manages the flight paths and manages complaints regarding air quality and enquiries through its Noise Complaints and Information Service (NCIS).

Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications (Department of Infrastructure)

The Commonwealth Department of Infrastructure develops and enforces the policy and regulatory framework for airports and the aviation industry including Airports Act 1996 and the Airports (Environment Protection) Regulations 1997.

Environment Protection Authority (EPA)

The South Australian EPA is responsible for the regulation and monitoring of ambient air quality in South Australia as per South Australia’s Environment Protection Act 1993 and the Environment Protection (Air Quality) Policy 2016.

Adelaide Airport Consultative Committee and Adelaide Airport Technical Working Group

The Adelaide Airport Consultative Committee is the primary forum for AAL to engage with local communities surrounding the airport on any

potential airport issue affecting the local community.

The Adelaide Airport Technical Working Group sub-committee investigates technical or complex issues brought to the AACC and looks into improvement opportunities.

Local Air Quality Monitoring

Ambient levels of key air pollutants are monitored at the EPA’s Netley monitoring station. This air quality station is located approximately 500m from the Adelaide’s main runway.

Carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and particulates less than 10 micrometres in diameter (PM10) are all monitored at this location.

Data published to-date by the SA EPA shows that air quality in the airshed that encompasses Adelaide Airport consistently meets the National Environment Protection (Ambient Air Quality) Measure 2003 criteria.2

AAL also undertakes ad-hoc air quality monitoring and has commissioned a number of studies in the past to ensure a better understanding of the local air quality. Studies have previously focussed on monitoring of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), air quality modelling and soot deposition.

Previous studies have demonstrated that ambient air pollutant concentrations are similar across Adelaide Airport and the wider surrounds. This suggests that regional airshed influences such as emissions from traffic and industry are dominant, rather than local pollutant sources.

Air Quality Monitoring and Action Plan

AAL, tenants and aircraft operators all work together to minimise emissions at Adelaide Airport. Emissions are managed by AAL through:

  • Environmental management plan development and implementation by tenants and construction companies in accordance with AAL guidelines
  • Development of guidance material for airport tenants for potentially air polluting activities
  • Provision of fixed electrical ground power units (GPUs) pre-conditioned air units (PCAs) at Terminal 1 parking stands in order to reduce engine run time and to minimise the use of jet fuel powered GPUs
  • AAL’s Low Carbon Statement and Carbon Management Plan. This includes a commitment to managing and minimising carbon emissions generated by operational activities thereby reducing energy consumption.

Section 14.13 of the Airport Environment Strategy in the Airport Master Plan details AAL’s eight-year air quality action plan.

Though previous studies demonstrate that regional airshed influences dominate rather than local pollutant sources, AAL is committed to undertaking a multi-phased investigation* to inform an Air Quality Management Plan for Adelaide Airport. The principal components of the air quality investigation are:

  • Review of literature regarding airport emissions, their potential impacts on human health, and regulation in Australia and overseas jurisdictions
  • Review of historic Adelaide Airport air-quality investigations and data, including gap analysis
  • Human health-risk assessment and investigation of potential mitigation measures, where required
  • Air quality assessments based on public health outcomes derived from the process described above

*In response to the significant impacts of COVID-19 on AAL’s business and traffic volumes, AAL has temporarily suspended work being undertaken by AAL’s external consultants on this air quality program. We are assessing this suspension on a month by month basis with the view to resume this work following suitable business recovery.

Future Planning

The aircraft industry has been designing and building more efficient aircraft that now operate in Australia which means lower air emissions and reduced contribution to climate change.

Technological advancement in aircraft technology has reduced aircraft fuel consumption and air pollution significantly over the past 30 years and this is expected to continue in the future. Technology is also expected to evolve to change how people travel and how aviation transport and connections are delivered.

Changes in the next 20 years may include the use of sustainable biofuel, electro-powered aircraft, supersonic aircraft, the introduction of air taxis, and growth in aircraft drones.

AAL is planning to ensure that we have infrastructure that supports new generation aircraft (such as the Boeing B787 Dreamliner, B737 MAX , B777X and Airbus neo aircraft types), and will continue to facilitate and actively support the introduction by airlines of cleaner and more efficient next generation aircraft.


1 Environment Protection Authority, 2018, State of the Environment Report for South Australia

2 National Environmental Protection Council 1998, National Environment Protection (Ambient Air Quality) Measure 1998 as amended made under section 20 of the National Environment Protection Council (South Australia) Act 1995 (SA)