Pressure mounting for new Sydney airport deal
Monday, February 20, 2017
The saga surrounding the construction of a new airport in Sydney, Australia, has continued to unfold over the past week, as pressure has been placed on the developers to confirm their plans, and the government has been asked for money to ease the burden.
The new airport for Sydney is to be constructed at Badgerys Creek, to the west of the city. The Australian government has a target of 2026 to have the facility operational and open to flights in a bid to ease congestion at the existing Kingsford Smith Airport. The airport will continue a drive to grow tourism to the city.
The government has imposed a deadline of May 8 for the operators of the existing Sydney Airport to confirm their interest in taking up rights to build the new airport — a notice of intention that originally had a deadline of late 2017.
Before making such a commitment, Sydney Airport wants clarification on some matters that, in their eyes, could impose unnecessary restrictions and make it a "deeply uneconomic investment decision," according to Sydney Airport CEO Kerrie Mather.
One of these issues is over restrictions on movements that currently limit operations at Sydney Kingsford Smith airport to 80 per hour (20 every 15 minutes), as well as an overnight curfew. Kingsford Smith is Australia’s largest and busiest airport, and yet no other airport in the country has such restrictions in place. Mather told The Sydney Morning Herald, "We think it is important to have a discussion about how we can modernise these 20-year-old [restrictions]."
A tourism lobby group also believes such a restriction is sabotaging the good work being done to attract more tourism to the city.
The other contentious issue surrounding the construction of the new airport is over who pays for it.
It will take many decades to pay off the construction and make a return on the new airport, Mather believes, stating that its construction will only be a sound economic decision if the government foots part of the bill. With the new deadline fast approaching, Sydney Airport is exploring all opportunities to work out the costs and options for funding Badgerys Creek in order to provide a proposal for the May date.
At present, the government has not offered any taxpayer funding towards construction, aside from what it has already committed for building new roads.
Many are opposed to the government offering any more funding. They believe it would offer an unfair advantage by propping up a monopoly, since both Sydney airports would be operated by the same organization, and therefore not open to as much competition on prices.
Having seen 42 million passengers in 2016, including a 9 percent growth in international passengers, Kingsford Smith Airport is reaching capacity quickly, with no room to expand. Badgerys Creek Airport would open up a gateway to those living in the west of the city, and offer an additional growth in international flights and tourism.
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