Construction on Sydney’s long-awaited second airport kicked off at Badgerys Creek in the city’s west on Monday with Prime Minister Scott Morrison surveying the scene before him and declaring “how good is this”.
The arrival of bulldozers for earthmoving works is the latest milestone in a project that is due to be completed by 2026.
Prime Minister Morrison said the Western Sydney Airport represented “the future of Sydney”.
“This is the biggest game-changer I think for the city of Sydney since, you know, we built the Harbour Bridge,” Prime Minister Morrison told reporters at the ground breaking event on Monday.
“That’s how big a deal this is.”
Breaking ground on construction for the new Western Sydney Airport. A long-awaited project in partnership with NSW Government.
Welcome to the future of Sydney. pic.twitter.com/GBJHsnuZaK
— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) September 24, 2018
The initial earthworks were to prepare the ground for the eventual runway and terminal construction.
Currently, the difference between the highest and lowest points on the airport site was equivalent to a 12-storey building. Therefore, about 1.8 million cubic metres of earth will have to be moved. This work, to be done by about 180 workers, was expected to be finished by the end of calendar 2019.
Meanwhile, major earthworks due to begin in 2019 will shift about 22 million cubic metres of earth. Expressions of interest are open for the first of three major earthworks and airside civil works packages, which were expected to be awarded in mid-2019.
The Western Sydney Airport Plan shows Stage 1 of the airport would feature a terminal capable of handling up to 10 million domestic and international passengers a year, with a single 3,700m long by 60m wide runway on a 05/23 orientation.
It was due to open by 2026.
The design of the facility would allow for a second parallel runway and expansion of the terminals to cater for 37 million passengers a year by 2050 and 82 million a year by about 2063.
The terminal design would feature swing gates capable of handling both domestic and international flights, which would increase the efficiency of transfers and increase the use of contact gates equipped with aerobridges.
Meanwhile, jet fuel supply was expected to be delivered by road tanker in a similar way to other airports operating on this scale, such as Canberra and Gold Coast.
And the Airport Plan said flightpaths had not been finalised, noting the draft flightpaths shown in the draft Airport Plan were a “conceptual model for aircraft arrivals”.
Beyond the airport itself, there is also a planned “aerotropolis” precinct bringing together firms across defence, aerospace, freight and logistics, agribusiness, pharmaceutical and biotech, among others, as well as education.
New Federal Minister for Cities, Urban Infrastructure and Population Alan Tudge was alongside Prime Minister Morrison at the ground breaking event.
The beginning of Western Sydney airport starts today! This is an historic project that is the catalyst for transforming Western Sydney. Great to be here with the PM @ScottMorrisonMP and @stuartayresmp pic.twitter.com/8kaEf3Ojos
— Alan Tudge (@AlanTudgeMP) September 24, 2018
Minister Tudge, who replaced Paul Fletcher in this portfolio following the change of Prime Minister in late August, said the airport had spurred investment in the surrounding region for infrastructure such as new roads and rail links.
Further, he said about 11,000 jobs were expected to be created during the construction phase, with about 28,000 jobs to be created within five years of the airport’s opening.
“All levels of government are working together to deliver a modern and vibrant Western Parkland City, an employment-generating Aerotropolis, and congestion-busting road and rail infrastructure, all of which will enhance liveability for people in Western Sydney,” he said.
Western Sydney Business Chamber director David Borger said the airport was an important piece of infrastructure for the NSW economy.
“Today we see the real work begin on turning a cow paddock into a world-class airport that will support almost 28,000 direct and indirect jobs in Western Sydney by 2031 – five years after it opens,” Borger said in a statement.
“The Western Sydney Business Chamber has been a vocal supporter of the airport, bringing representatives of our communities together through the Western Sydney Airport Alliance to make the case for this game-changing piece of infrastructure.
“With industry already setting up within the aerotropolis and a new major university planning to base itself next door, nothing can stop the airport now, it is finally a reality,” Mr Borger said.
VIDEO: A promotional video from Western Sydney Airport’s YouTube channel.