Kerrie Mather to step down as Sydney Airport chief executive

Sydney Airport chief executive Kerrie Mather at AAA national conference.
A file image of Sydney Airport chief executive Kerrie Mather at the AAA national conference in 2014.

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.

Comments

  1. Ben says

    I’m not surprised that Sydney Airport are hesitant to invest in Badgerys Creek. Yes Sydney is in need of a second airport, however the location of Mascot makes an investment in anything else risky. I can seriously see people voting with their feet and just going with the convenience of the current airport, Airlines will need to pay attention to this too. I see Badgerys Creek becoming a LCC or Cargo hub. The domain of Jetstar, Tigerair, Scoot and Air Asia. Whereas KSA will just continue to burst at the seams. A bit like the difference between Gatwick/Stansted and Heathrow although on a smaller scale. A radical alternative would be to force Badgerys Creek to become Sydneys primary airport by redeveloping KSA as a smaller airport: Get rid of runway 16L/34R, (Maybe redevelop as an industrial area or shipping wharf.) Shorten runway 16R/34L back to about 2,400 metres and leave 07/25 the way it is. This way KSA could become ‘Sydney City Airport’ similar to London City Airport. The domain of Regional turboprops, dedicated business flights and short haul international flights – For everyone wanting to be close to the city. I imagine the current overflown residents would be thankful for the decrease in traffic. Then Badgerys Creek would be developed to its full potential as soon as possible and it would handle everything else. With a fast rail link between both airports so you can have connecting flights at either one. Oh wait a minute, we’re in Australia, thats far too visionary. 🙂 However I think if you’re going to impose government regulations and curfews on airports why not semi-regulate how they can be used, so the market can then be gently persuaded to go where the infrastructure can support what they are doing.

  2. Lechuga says

    @ben That may be one of the smartest and best ideas I’ve ever heard when it comes to Badgerys Creek, except I wouldn’t label KSA a “regional airport” I’d make it a bit more of a domestic &a cargo hub, and direct a lot more of the International flights to Badgerys creek and of course you could still get domestics to BC, but they would be more of the connecting flight domestics than just traveling to Sydney.

  3. Ben says

    @Lechuga thanks. It might sound a bit strange but I think the issue of Sydney Airport requires thinking outside the box. Having thought about it a bit more there might not be any need to shorten 16R/34L as it is I think its one of the longest runways in the Southern Hemisphere so probably handy to keep it as it is.I agree a cargo hub might be the go. Use 16R/34L almost exclusively for international cargo. Shut down and redevelop terminal one and use as a cargo and maintenance area and expand the current freight parking to the South. Then redevelop and join terminals 2 and 3 into the one combined domestic/international terminal. Maybe keep 16L/34R as well, but only use that for passenger flights. That way you’d ‘encourage’ the airlines to use it as a domestic/short haul international and/or inner city jetport for business flights etc. Same as London City Airport. Then Badgerys Creek would become the natural primary long-haul airport for Sydney.

  4. Marc says

    We wouldn’t need another airport if Syd was open 24hrs like every other world city.

    Waste of money.

  5. Dave says

    Or spend the billions of dollars on the HS Railway to Melbourne and Brisbane which will reduce the number of flights between them all and provide capacity relief at KSA.

  6. Adrian P says

    Heathrow has restrictions.

    Although there is not a ban on flights at night, since the 1960s, the Government has been placing restrictions on night flights. There are no scheduled flights between 11pm and 4:30am. The airport is currently very tightly restricted by the Government in terms of the numbers of planes that can land during these sensitive times. The Government consult on the rules every 5 years and it’s their job to balance the economic benefits of night flights with the social impacts. The Government are due to review these restrictions in 2017.

    As for KSA it is bad enough to have to go to a capital city for an international flight but to also have to compete with commuters travelling into the centre of Sydney.

  7. Holden says

    Still trying to work out why $5-6 billion is the estimate when Wagners built the international standard Wellcamp Toowoomba for considerably less. Whilst Wellcamp doesn’t have a large jetway configured terminal, the runway is certainly comparable. Something seems to be amiss with the figures. My fear is that a large proportion of the proposed cost is actually just overblown consultancy fees, the never-ending environmental impact analyses and a vast wasteful gravy train.