Sydney’s second airport at Badgerys Creek is set to proceed after the allocation of $5 billion in funding in last month’s Federal Budget, ending months of speculation over who would develop the facility.
Prime Minster Malcolm Turnbull announced the Government would fund and develop the project itself after it became clear the private operator of the existing Sydney Airport would decline its right to take on the new facility.
Construction of Western Sydney Airport will now begin late next year, with an opening slated for 2026 – news welcomed by tourism industry bodies including the Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF).
“Securing funding to build the Western Sydney Airport has been at the top of TTF’s list for many years now, and we are very pleased to see the Turnbull Government has finally made a rock-solid commitment to get it off the ground,” said TTF chief executive Margy Osmond.
“The benefit of the Western Sydney Airport to the region’s visitor economy cannot be overstated – it will be a massive economic engine that will drive investment and jobs growth through the roof.”
But within days of funding being announced, questions were being raised over the cost of the project and whether a private operator might still take responsibility for the build.
The private developer behind Toowoomba’s Wellcamp Airport, Queensland’s Wagner Group, said the Sydney plan was over-priced, with its Chairman John Wagner suggesting he could build the airport for around $3.5 billion and would lodge a bid with the Government.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce backed the potential for private involvement, telling ABC radio a non-government builder could offer “a better outcome”.
“I’m a big fan of John Wagner, they’ve delivered an airport for a very low cost, on time and on budget,” Joyce said.
“If there’s a way to have private enterprise like the Wagners, I would be supportive of that. And if there’s a way to have that dynamic in the construction of (Western Sydney Airport) we’ll end up with a better outcome.”
Meanwhile, debate continues over transport facilities around the new airport. Although the Federal Government has committed to preserving a rail corridor, no funding was set aside to develop a rail link to the Badgerys Creek site.