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Jul 13, 2009

Sydney airport at Richmond? So funny it might not be serious

The Board of Airline Representatives of Australia has to be kidding if it really, truly, wants the Federal Government to build a second Sydney airport at the RAAF base at Richmond.

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The Board of Airline Representatives of Australia has to be kidding if it really, truly, wants the Federal Government to build a second Sydney airport at the RAAF base at Richmond.

Could it really be trying to focus the government’s mind on the necessity of building it at Badgery’s Creek instead, by forcing it to review the failings of the Richmond site?

BARA has recommended Richmond after expressing the well known reasons why a second Sydney airport far, far away from Sydney will in fact not be a Sydney Airport, but an airport in whoop whoop that no-one flying to or from Sydney would use.

The issues with Richmond, which BARA would understand better than anyone, is that it will make no discernible difference to congestion at Sydney’s main airport.

There is barely 2000 metres of usable runway. It is the Hotel California of airports, anything can land there, but not very much can check out with a full payload, and especially on a hot day.

If the idea is that heavy international flights are never going to use Richmond, but enough shorter range domestic flights would, and thus create spare slots at Sydney for more big jets, there are also a few issues.

Richmond is payload limited under some circumstances for domestic flights using, say, 737s, and so hard to get to from most of Sydney as to be useless in terms of supporting frequent services to Melbourne, Brisbane or the Gold Coast.

Talk about upgrading the train line is silly. This is Sydney, the world capital for screwed up train lines.

No air traveller with a measurable IQ would contemplate getting a train from the city via the western and Richmond lines to such an airport, especially after trying to use the existing Sydney Airport-City line at peak hour towing a suitcase or children.

Sydney can’t even run one of the smallest CBD underground lines on the planet successfully. It butchered the airport railway and recently opened a joke underground link from Chatswood to Epping that only made sense as part of a Chatswood to Parramatta line.

It is true that the runway at Richmond can be extended, at huge cost, and by bulldozing quaint historic sites and maybe most of Windsor. Which will look terrific come election time all over whatever media is left in business by then.

But to get a proper, fly anything anytime 4000 metre north-south runway in place at Richmond it is actually necessary to flatten thousands of homes and vector jets right over the precious electorates that are probably the reason why the government ruled out Badgery’s Creek.

Which brings us to Badgery’s Creek. Building an economically sensible airport there is made so easy by close proximity to the M7 orbital motorway.

The integration of the M7 into the M5, M4 and M2 has already been accomplished.

Badgery’s Creek is now set up to be more conveniently reached from substantial parts of the metropolitan basin than the main airport, and at very small road building costs in the form of one or two spur roads to the M7 and M4.

The ultimate irony would be for the government to decide to designate Richmond the second Sydney Airport and promise a massive motorway project to link the M5 and M7 junction to Richmond via a corridor through the Penrith St Marys area.

This could then allow people to drive right along the three kilometres of flat terrain included in the Badgery’s Creek site before going another 30 kilometres to get to Richmond, an airport that would always be too far for most travellers to be considered worthwhile.

It is such a stupid idea it is probably “the plan.”

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