Federal Minister for Urban Infrastructure Paul Fletcher says the government is on track to issue Sydney Airport the sales contract to build and operate the proposed airport at Badgerys Creek before the end of 2016.
In a speech to a Committee for Economic Development of Australia event in Parramatta on Monday, Fletcher said work on the Notice of Intention (NOI) was almost complete.
“The Government intends to issue the notice before the end of this year, following a lengthy consultation process,” Fletcher said in prepared remarks.
“We have spent many, many days working with Sydney Airport – and we appreciate the time, energy and expertise they have brought to the process.
“The idea of the consultation process is that by the time it gets formally issued, Sydney Airport knows exactly what is in it – in the legal language that it is ‘substantially familiar’ with the terms.”
When the Commonwealth sold Sydney Airport in 2002 it included a 30-year first right of refusal to build and operate any airport within 100km of the existing terminals at Mascot.
Sydney Airport has said previously it would have between four and nine months to consider the proposal once the NOI has been issued.
The document will cover the deed governing the development of the airport, the lease of airport land and the arrangements under which the airport will operate, among other matters.
Fletcher said he expected the airport to prove attractive to low-cost carriers (LCC), noting this airline grouping represented a growing share of international passenger traffic into and out of Australia.
Further, the proposed Badgerys Creek airport will “enjoy” a catchment area of two million residents in the Western Sydney region.
“I am confident that low cost carriers will be attracted to Western Sydney Airport, offering travel to domestic cities and also selected regional destinations such as New Zealand and Bali from the outset,” Fletcher said.
“It is also likely that inbound international low cost carriers will see Western Sydney Airport as offering new opportunities to add routes to Australia.
“London is a good example of how demand can be shared in a multi-airport city with secondary airports supporting the total aviation capacity, including the growing low-cost carrier market.”
Fletcher also reaffirmed the government’s preference for the airport at Badgerys Creek to operate without a curfew, albeit with some flightpath restrictions during overnight hours where all flights will land from and take off in a southwesterly direction with the aim of avoiding residential areas.
This policy, which is also what the federal opposition had proposed, has been criticised by pilot groups.
Earlier in November, Federal Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg laid down 40 environmental conditions that needed to be met as part of the construction and operation of the proposed airport. They covered biodiversity, noise and heritage and were developed after a review of the proposed airport’s environmental impact statement (EIS) that was finalised in September.
Currently, road upgrade works in partnership with the state government were underway, while a joint federal-NSW government Joint Scoping Study on Rail Needs for Western Sydney was considering the airport’s rail needs.
“The study will identify rail service options, connections, travel speeds, and types of train services to connect the Western Sydney region and service a Western Sydney Airport,” Fletcher said.
“The study will consider whether rail could be operational when the airport opens – or if not, how soon afterwards.”