The federal government has confirmed Badgerys Creek as the site of a new, second airport for Sydney, Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure Minister Warren Truss announced today.
“The government has confirmed that the site for Western Sydney’s new airport will be Badgerys Creek,” the Prime Minister said.
“For more than 50 years governments have talked about a second airport for Sydney. The talk is over. The final decision has been made.”
Construction of the new airport could commence as soon as 2016, the Prime Minister said, but it won’t be operational until the mid-2020s, according to a Department of Infrastructure fact sheet released with the announcement.
“The Australian government estimates that the airport could be ready to take its first flight in the mid-2020s,” the fact-sheet reads.
“A new airport will cater for Sydney’s passenger demand for the decades to come. This means that Badgerys Creek will eventually develop into a full scale airport with parallel runways. However, in the initial years it will begin as a smaller airport with a single runway to serve the modest demand expected in the short term. This may be similar to Canberra or Gold Coast Airports which service three and six million passengers respectively.”
The federal government-owned 1,700 hectare site at Badgerys Creek was acquired under the Hawke Labor government between 1986 and 1991, but development of a new airport there was subsequently postponed due to the construction of a third runway at Sydney Airport. The Dept of Infrastructure fact sheet notes: “The site owned by the Australia government is sufficient to support an initial airport development and further land acquisition is unlikely to be required. Any future decision to expand would require consultation between the government, the airport owner and affected stakeholders.”
Before construction of the new airport can begin, the federal government has to enter into discussions with the owners of Sydney Airport, which under the privatisation agreement for the sale of Australia’s busiest airport has first right of refusal over the development of a second airport within 100km of Sydney Airport.
“Sydney Airport has a Right of First Refusal which sets out a detailed process that will be worked through as and when appropriate. In the meantime, we will continue to engage in constructive discussions with the federal government,” Sydney Airport noted in a statement.
“In the interests of the travelling public, airlines and our shareholders, Sydney Airport will apply appropriate commercial and financial discipline throughout any process.”
The government has also flagged that the cost of developing the new airport would be largely borne by the private sector.
“There will be some expense to the Commonwealth in terms of planning and design, but the $2.5 billion – which is widely quoted as the cost of building the airport itself – is something that will come from the private sector,” the PM told media.
Qantas was quick to welcome the announcement: “Qantas has long supported the building of a second airport at Badgerys Creek, as have a number of detailed studies. After decades of debate, we applaud today’s announcement by the Prime Minister,” CEO Alan Joyce said in a statement.
“The role of second airports has been well-established in several of the world’s major capitals. Sydney is the key gateway for air traffic in-and-out of Australia and the benefits of having two major airports will be felt nationwide.”