Pressure builds on O’Farrell over second Sydney airport

written by australianaviation.com.au | April 11, 2012
Politicians from both side of the federal parliament say an expanded Canberra Airport would not be a viable option as a second Sydney hub. (Canberra Airport)

Battle lines are being drawn between the federal and NSW governments over the placement of a second Sydney Airport, as the bipartisanship called for in the wake of a dire study on the city’s airport needs appears predictably elusive.

Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese has in recent days accused conservative NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell of pursuing “short-term politics” by opposing a second airport anywhere in western Sydney. O’Farrell’s preferred plan to link Sydney to an expanded Canberra Airport was unrealistic and might as well have come “out of a Coco Pops packet,” Albanese said.

But O’Farrell shot back, saying Albanese was pursuing a second airport to relieve aircraft noise in his own electorate, which includes Sydney’s Kingsford-Smith airport. O’Farrell insisted he would stand by his election promise not to “dump” aircraft noise on the western suburbs.

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Increasingly, however, political pressure appears to be mounting against O’Farrell from both side of the federal parliament, with reports indicating that about a dozen Coalition MP’s have met to discuss how to convince O’Farrell to drop his opposition to a second airport in Sydney.

“The truth is there are no more temporary solutions, there can be no more procrastination, there can be no more delays, we have to start work planning for a second airport now,” Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey told Fairfax, adding that the second airport “cannot be built at Canberra. Canberra is a fog-bound airport 300km away.”

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has also weighed in for the first time, last week telling The Australian that it was “timely to start planning for a second airport in the Sydney basin to ensure that future international and domestic aviation growth opportunities can be realised.”

The push comes in the wake of the release of a long awaited study that called for urgent action on a second airport and said Kingsford-Smith would reach “aircraft deadlock” within a decade. The study, jointly commissioned by the federal and NSW governments, recommended Badgery’s Creek and Wilton as the preferred sites of a second airport. Both sides have rejected Badgery’s Creek, but Albanese is said to be considering further study of the Wilton site despite O’Farrell’s opposition.

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Meanwhile, federal frontbenchers from both parties have strongly rejected a call by the Sydney Business Chamber to repeal the hourly cap on aircraft movements at Kingsford-Smith, a move the business group described as a stop-gap measure in light of O’Farrell’s opposition to a second airport.

The recent airport study also called for raising the hourly cap from 80 to 85 aircraft movements during peak times, but Albanese rejected the recommendation, saying it would do little to relieve congestion while adding considerably to noise woes. Hockey said the cap would be lifted over his “dead body.”

14 Comments

  • Rhino

    says:

    Having limited knowledge about the issues facing Sydney Airport, would there be merit in converting RAAF Richmond or RAAF Williamtown to a second Sydney airport and then relocating the air force from one of these locations?

  • ron

    says:

    Why hasn’t anyone asked about Wollongong? (Albion Park Rail).

  • Cooper

    says:

    What is going on? What is Barry thinking.

    There is no way a second airport should be 300km away from the city. That wouldn’t even be called a Sydney airport therefore no one will fly there.

    I’m sick of flying into Sydney and being held up by Sydney air traffic control. Building a second airport must be done ASAP to relieve the growing pressure. And as a regular commuter there is no way I would fly to an airport 300km away. Even with a high speed rail link that is still more time I’m wasting to get to a meeting that may only be an hour or two. Canberra is a very foolish option

  • Oyst3rs

    says:

    Why can’t they look at building a purpose built location in the ocean? Or like previous comments the military bases nowra is another one. Don’t think Wollongong is an option for 747’s etc they are too big for the location.

  • ron

    says:

    I accept that Wollongong cant do 747’s & A380’s, but its main runway of 1,819m is the same length as Maroochydore (1,803m), which daily handles 737’s & A320s. With a bit of upgrading, Wollongong could do the same. There’s a train line right there & you could have a “fast” service stopping Wollongong, Sutherland, Hurstville, Central, without having to invent a whole new high speed train. It wouldn’t work too well for people needing international connections, but could easily do the golden triangle, plus any other stand-alone domestic flight to almost anywhere in the country. Would certainly take pressure off KSA.

  • pez

    says:

    Silly me, I thought aviation brought billions into the economy, was getting quieter and safer every year and was utilised by millions in this country every year……thank god those politicians know better. Another BS political battle over basic infrastructure. It’s times like this I wish we lived in a dictatorship…….I bet Kim Jong-Il didn’t have to put up with this crap 😛

  • ron

    says:

    Wish this was facebook & there was a “like” button for the above comment.

  • craig simpson

    says:

    The problem could easily be solved by linking canberra airport to sydney by transrapid maglev. for the cost of an airport in sydney that nobody in sydney wants a maglev to canberra and newcastle could be done and it will still cost less.

    even better if maglev was done to melbourne then the problem would just go away period.

  • craig simpson

    says:

    ron how exactly do I get a train to wollongong from liverpool in a timely manner. even a fast service from where you are suggesting isn’t going to be fast. utilising cityrail is not a solution. A 35 minute Sydney to Canberra Airport maglev would be much more viable and negate the need to waste money on a second sydney airport.

  • ron

    says:

    I hear you Craig. I’m not suggesting it would suit everyone from every locality. Nothing ever will. A trip down the motorway straight into Sydney would obviously suit you better. Badgerys Creek would be even easier. A 35 minute maglev trip sounds great, as long as you can convince Government to build it & convince passengers that travelling that fast on land is safe. I cant see either of those things happening in the next 10 years. And even if you could get a train to Canberra, you’ve still got to come in via Central to do it, which is the same as the train to wollongong option. I realise Cityrail is not inspiring; it too would need some spruccing up, but I believe the package as a whole would be easier & faster to implement in the short term, whilst our beloved polititions spend another 20 years finding the courage to build something bigger.

  • craig simpson

    says:

    I could convince them easily. all I need is support.

    transrapid maglev is now same cost or cheaper then conventional rail and because it can hangle higher grades, heavy earthworks aren’t necessary. For example the north west rail link is going to cost about $10billion dollars. But if a maglev route from central to the northwest was done it would cost half of that amount because no tunnels would be required.

  • random

    says:

    I love fast rail and found it fabulous when I’ve used it – but has anyone considered the unique challenges a kangaroo presents to isolating the track in Australia, from a 300kmh collision, let alone the other big issue – we don’t have a big feeding population network that lives outside of the east coast corridor. In Europe, Japan, China and North America the heavily trafficked corridors also have abundant population density adjacent to help feed them – something lacking here in Australia. If Toowoomba, Tamworth, Bathurst, Orange, Wagga and Albury each contained 300,000 people feeding into the corridor it might be a little different for a Brisbane to Melbourne fast rail.

    I am astounded that the Central Coast option is being so quickly denounced – it is in fact outside the Sydney basin despite what the pollies say, does have it’s own feeding population density that make flights not entirely reliant on the Sydney basin for catchment, has some of the necessary infrastructure in place albeit requiring upgrade.

    As for military assets, Richmond actually continues to serve a defined purpose for the RAAF fixed wing and Army helicopter operations as does Nowra for Navy so usurping their utility is a little naive albeit convenient and possibly expedient. Further to that a significant element of all their utility is in use for circuits for crew training – some that generates congestion.

    The Wollongong option mentioned above is very interesting – although I suspect runway and taxiway strengthening would still present a significant cost, turbulence considerations would apply for must of the year with westerly winds, multi-rwy ILS would be required for the low cloud the Illawara escarpment generates, and the existing take-off gradient on the rwy for IFR operations is larger than the normal.

  • craig simpson

    says:

    well kangaroo hits is another reason to go maglev because maglev can be raised off the ground. Thus avoiding such a problem with wildlife.

    Considering that we haven’t spent any money on or have any existing vhst rail infrastructure at all. why not start with the fastest capability thats available that also suits our unique requirement better then tradition fast rail.

    I agree with not utilising military assets. I agree with utilising the central coast and wollongong for domestic. but canberra can be utilised for international flights and with a link to sydney by maglev and a trip of only 30 minutes. Why shouldn’t this be done.

  • Harrison

    says:

    I haven’t lived in Sydney for a few years but what about Bankstown Airport? Or has everyone completely written it off?

    Surely if a completely rebuilt BWU was to become the airport that all regional/private flights came into/out of then that would free up slots at KSA? Not to mention ground space to expand terminals.

    Then, a regular high speed train service could connect both airports for stress free connections to other flights as well as link to Sydney central.

    If Bankstowns runway was to be lengthened then tiger airways and some jetstar operations could also be moved away from KSA.

    As for everything that’s currently at bankstown, well that could all be moved to Wilson or badgerys creek?

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