Kerrie Mather has announced she is stepping down as chief executive of Sydney Airport.
Mather’s decision to leave the company she has led since 2002 comes as Sydney Airport considers whether to take up its right of first refusal to build and operate the proposed airport at Badgerys Creek in Sydney’s west.
The airport has until May 8 to inform the federal government of its decision.
Mather, who will stay on as chief executive until her successor is appointed, said in a statement on Wednesday Sydney Airport was well positioned for the future.
“I’m very proud of the work we’ve done in partnership with industry, governments and the community, to grow aviation connectivity and choice, domestically and internationally,” Mather said.
“It’s the right time to transition to new leadership. I look forward to continuing to work with the leadership team until the new CEO starts.”
The company said an international recruitment firm had commenced the search for a new chief executive.
Sydney Airport chairman Trevor Gerber said Mather had made a “tremendous contribution” in her time as chief executive.
“Under Kerrie’s leadership, Sydney Airport has developed strong and enduring relationships across the aviation industry, with all levels of government both in Australia and internationally, and with our local communities,” Gerber said.
“Sydney Airport is in a strong position, and well placed for future growth as Australia’s premier international gateway. We have a dedicated and talented leadership team in place that will ensure a seamless transition.
When the Commonwealth sold Sydney Airport in 2002 it included a 30-year right of first refusal to build and operate any airport within 100km of the existing terminals at Mascot.
In February, Mather said the government’s proposal represented a “challenging investment proposition” given the Commonwealth was not offering any funding assistance for the construction of the terminals and runways that are estimated to cost between $5-6 billion.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said recently an independent or government-owned airport at Badgerys Creek would be a win for airlines and the passengers they carry.
“A second international airport competing with Sydney Airport could yield significant benefits to both consumers and airlines. An independent operator of Western Sydney Airport would have a strong incentive to invest, set competitive prices and offer improved service levels to effectively compete with Sydney Airport,” the ACCC said in its Airport Monitoring Report for 2015/16.
“On the other hand, a common owner of the two airports would have an incentive to restrict investment and delay the new airport in order to maximise returns from its existing assets.”
The federal government has said it was prepared to build the airport itself should Sydney Airport not exercise its right of first refusal.