Western Sydney Airports appears on track for its projected 2026 opening after already shifting 20 million cubic metres of earth and pumping more than AU$100 million into businesses in Western Sydney.
An alternative to Sydney’s existing airport
When it opens, Western Sydney Airport will offer airlines and passengers an alternative to Sydney’s now sole passenger airport, crowded Kingsford Smith Airport.
Sydney sprawls out over 12,000 square kilometers, and many of the city’s 5.3 million inhabitants live out in the Sydney western suburbs. The new airport is making a big deal about being “their” airport. In comparison, the existing airport is handy to Sydney’s downtown area and its eastern suburbs.
“This project will be a game-changer for Western Sydney locals who want to work closer to home and have more time to spend with their families, not just in the construction phase, but for many decades to come,” says Western Sydney Airport CEO Simon Hickey.
“Construction of Western Sydney International has already led to more than $100 million being contracted to businesses across Western Sydney, and we are only at the beginning of the build.”
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Airlines yet to commit to Western Sydney Airport
Simon Hickey calls the build one of the biggest earthmoving challenges in Australian history. Construction of the airport terminal will commence before the end of the year. Construction of the runways and taxiways will begin in 2022.
The new airport is expected to create 28,000 direct and indirect jobs. More than half the people working at the airport will come from Sydney’s western suburbs.
Sydney’s second airport has been a long time coming and remains mired in controversy. However, with Sydney’s current operational airport feeling the squeeze space-wise and capacity wise, there is room for another airport. But is an airport around 50 kilometers west of Sydney’s downtown the answer?
Mr Hickey has signed MOUs with various airlines, including local heavyweights Qantas and Virgin Australia. But an MOU is very different from a firm commitment to fly in and out of the airport. To date, there have been no firm commitments.
Various dedicated freight airlines, including FedEx, DHL, and Qantas Freight, have expressed interest, as has Qantas’ low-cost offshoot Jetstar. Western Sydney Airport may be one of the 35 odd airports that have expressed interest in startup Bonza touching down there.
Future hit or future white elephant?
Critics of Western Sydney Airport point to Melbourne’s Avalon Airport (also a similar distance from Melbourne’s downtown) as an example of an alternative passenger airport that has struggled to gain much traction.
But Simon Hickey dismisses this. He notes three million people live in the local catchment area, giving the future airport the third biggest catchment area of any airport in Australia.
“Westen Sydney is home to one in ten Australians. It is the third-largest economy after Sydney and Melbourne. It is one of Australia’s fastest-growing areas in terms of population, and it will have the third-largest catchment of any Australian airport on day one of operation.”
For many of the present Sydney-based passengers using the existing airport, the new Western Sydney Airport may prove a more convenient alternative. For others, it will not. But with construction well underway, there is no turning back.