Sydney Airport plans to talk with construction firms about what building a new airport at Badgerys Creek will involve once the formal consultation period with the government concludes, chief executive Kerrie Mather says.
However, no decision on whether the company will take up its right of first refusal to build and operate the new airport will be made until 2016 at the earliest.
The nine-month consultation between Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development and the owners of Sydney Airport is due to end on June 30.
Once that concludes, the government will develop a proposal for the airport outlining the technical specifications, contractual terms and the timetable.
Mather says Sydney Airport expects to have ongoing informal consultations with the government after June 30, as its team of internal and external continued to evaluate the opportunity that a Western Sydney Airport (WSA) at Badgerys Creek represented.
“In addition to continuing engagement with the Commonwealth, Sydney Airport will engage with the construction market in the third quarter of this year to assist us to gather information as to the efficient and optimum design to determine the cost and viability of the WSA project,” Mather told security holders at Sydney Airport’s annual general meeting on Thursday.
“We are working actively to understand all stakeholder impacts and expectations. In particular we are considering our investor base and its priorities which we are very familiar with.”
Mather said its experts were analysing issues such as “maximising aviation capacity in the Sydney Basin, risk and cost minimisation, value engineering, optimum design and staging, efficient pricing structures, and precedents for government assisted private sector provision of infrastructure”.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss told the Preparing for Take-Off conference in Sydney on May 1 the government’s formal proposal, called a notice of intention, would take some months.
“It is possible that we would have a formal proposal to present to Sydney Airport as soon as the end of this year,” Truss told the conference in prepared remarks.
“If Sydney Airport refuses this proposal, then we will take it to the open market and offer the opportunity to build and operate the new airport to other parties.”
Mather said Sydney Airport would be required to make a decision on the government’s proposal “either four or nine months later, so some time in 2016”.
The government has said previously construction at Badgerys Creek was earmarked to start in 2016 and be operational by mid-2020. The airport would initially have a single 4km runway and operate without a curfew.
Truss said some early engineering work has already commenced on the 1,700ha site, including a second phase of geotechnical analysis that involves digging 100 boreholes up to a depth of 40m.
Meanwhile, Mather said the airport was working on a new international pricing agreement with various airlines that expire in June with the Board of Airline Representatives of Australia (BARA), Qantas and Virgin Australia.
“We see the renegotiation as a unique opportunity to deepen our engagement with our airline partners and BARA on all aspects of their requirements for facilities, products, capacity and quality of service at Sydney Airport,” Mather said.
BARA negotiates collectively on behalf of a number of international airlines that fly to Australia.
The AGM is Max Moore-Wilton’s last as Sydney Airport chairman. Long-time director Trevor Gerber has been nominated as the company’s new chairman.