Work Starts On Western Sydney Airport

Earthworks are underway at the new Western Sydney Airport. Over one million cubic meters of dirt a month will be moved to allow for the construction of the terminal, runway, roads and rail.

Western Sydney Airport is slated to open in 2026. Photo: Western Sydney Airport.

Western Sydney Airport executive general manager, Jim Tragotsalos, says it is a significant event in the airport’s construction.

“This is an exciting day not just for Western Sydney, but for the nation, as this transformational project marks its biggest milestone yet.”

Western Sydney Airport is slated to open in 2026

Western Sydney Airport, known locally as Badgerys Creek Airport, has been decades in the making. It is designed to take the pressure off the squeezed Kingsford Smith Airport (SYD) and to cater for the burgeoning population in western and southwestern Sydney.

The new airport is scheduled to open in 2026. There will be a single 3,700 x 60-meter runway and a 65,000 square meter terminal capable of handling ten million passengers a year.

In approximately three decades, when Western Sydney Airport reaches full capacity, there should be two runways capable of handling 185,000 flights and 37 million passengers annually.

But that is a way off yet.

10,000 swimming pools worth of dirt to be moved

Hundreds of earthmoving machines are now on the airport site. The major earthworks will see some 25 million cubic meters of earth moved.

Using a local yardstick, that’s about 10,000 Olympic swimming pools worth of dirt. In a statement, Mr Tragotsalos said;

“We’ll have hundreds of workers and more than 200 scrapers, excavators, graders, dump trucks and dozers, including some of the world’s biggest machines, on-site getting to work on this mammoth task.

“We need to flatten what is a very hilly site – the difference between the highest and lowest points is equivalent to a 12-storey building – so we definitely have our work cut out for us.”

The earthworks will prepare the ground for the terminal, runway, road and rail links. Photo: Western Sydney Airport.

Western Sydney Airport seen as a jobs generator

Given the time taken to get construction of Western Sydney Airport underway and the cost involved, politicians are busy talking things up. In a statement, the Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison said;

“We are getting on with the job of providing an airport for the people of Western Sydney that will enable them to continue to secure their economic future.

“We never underestimated the task of building this airport after generations of delay, and we remain committed to Western Sydney and getting it done.”

Much of the focus surrounding the next stage of the airport’s construction is on jobs. There is an expectation that 28,000 direct and indirect jobs will be created at Western Sydney Airport.

Will the airport be a white elephant?

There is less talk about whether the airport could be a white elephant.

The airport is located nearly 50 kilometers west of Sydney’s downtown. The current airport is about 10 kilometers south of the city’s downtown, or an easy 10-minute subway ride.

Whether passengers or airlines are prepared to leave the conveniences of SYD is yet to be determined.

Plenty of people are wondering if Western Sydney Airport will be a white elephant. Photo: Western Sydney Airport.

What’s most likely to happen is that Western Sydney Airport will start by picking up some low-cost carriers – a larger and more successful version of Melbourne’s Avalon Airport perhaps?

A lot will depend on how good the transport links are from the new airport. This includes rail links. There were plans to construct the airport without a rail link. But this was reconsidered after a public backlash.

However, that’s all still a while off. Based on what Western Sydney Airport has said, earthworks are going to take about two years. While it is good to see things at Badgerys Creek moving forward, there’s still a lot of time to contemplate the final outcome.