Jetstar Australia and New Zealand chief executive David Hall says the success of the proposed Badgerys Creek airport depends on what infrastructure is put in place to support its operations.
Hall says Badgerys Creek, which the federal government has said previously would be operational by the mid-2020s, has strong fundamentals given the large population of Western Sydney and the support of local businesses in the region.
However, the “variable here is infrastructure”.
“It’s infrastructure that will determine if Western Sydney is positioned for success – or left to chance,” Hall told the Preparing for Take-off conference held at the University of Western Sydney on Friday in prepared remarks.
Hall backed calls for Badgerys Creek to be a 24-hour facility equipped with the latest air navigation technology and accessible by both road and rail links from the beginning.
“It’s essential that we do not cruel this airport with curfews or any other artificial constraint on its capacity,” Hall said.
“Curfew-free status will enable us to maximise the new airport’s productivity, and give it a point of difference from Mascot.
“On top of that, the airport should employ the latest in air navigation technology – systems like GBAS and RNP which reduce airborne holding, cut fuel burn and carbon emissions, and minimise noise.
“All the global evidence suggests that this airport will need integrated road and rail links from day one, if it’s to sustain commercial levels of demand.”
The federal government is currently in a nine-month formal consultation period with the owners of Sydney Airport, which has the first right of refusal to build and operate the new facility. Preliminary work has also begun on the project, including a fresh environmental impact study.
Hall said it was essential that the airport be priced appropriately, warning high charges would stifle its potential.
However, any price incentives for airlines to operate at the new airport should not come as a result of higher charges for airlines flying out of the existing terminals at Mascot, should Sydney Airport become the eventual owners of both Kingsford Smith and Badgerys Creek.
“One thing we do not want, however, is for low prices at Badgerys to be subsidised by higher prices at Mascot, should we end up with a dual-ownership structure,” Hall said.
“It’s crucial that we get this balance right, and I’m sure it will be at the top of the government’s mind in the next stage of consultation.
“We don’t see the Western Sydney airport as supplanting Kingsford Smith – we see the two as complementary.
“Mascot will remain Australia’s international gateway, and maximising its potential is a national priority.”
On the question of whether Jetstar would operate out of Badgerys Creek, Hall told the conference the Qantas Group was still considering the matter.
“Right now we’re going through the process of assessing how the Qantas Group could serve the new airport and I don’t have a definitive answer for you today,” Hall said.
He said Western Sydney had the “ingredients for a classic secondary airport driven primarily by demand in the domestic leisure market, with international services as a long-term aspiration”.
“We are all ambitious for the new airport to succeed, but we should be careful not to burden it with impossible goals on day one,” Hall said.
“Let’s get the planning right, get the infrastructure right, get the pricing right, and let’s make sure this airport can stand on its own two feet as a commercial proposition.
“If those building blocks are in place, then you’ll find Jetstar a willing partner in creating demand, building a market, and generating the benefits for Western Sydney that all of us want to see.”