The founding CEO of Virgin Blue, Brett Godfrey, last night challenged government, business and the airline sector to scrap the “interminable” quest for a second Sydney airport and pursue an all new, single and super-sized Sydney Airport to replace the existing airport.

It was one of a series of “contrary” or “anti-thoughts” Godfrey offered in his delivery of the 52nd Sir Charles Kingsford Smith Memorial Lecture to the Royal Aeronautical Society in Sydney last night. But it will be the one to make headlines.

Godfrey said this morning: “I’m not advocating this as the solution, but as a thought that will make us think harder about the nature of the second Sydney Airport problem, and consider something radically different that will help Sydney survive as a major city for tourism and business.

“This is about nothing less than its survival as a vital part of the nation.

“Let’s go one step ahead and think of a way to eliminate the existing problems at Sydney Airport of lack of size, caps on aircraft hourly movements and curfews, and the issues in trying to determine who will move what services to a second Sydney airport, and the difficulties which then arise in connecting both facilities, and picking winners and losers.

“Building a second Sydney Airport to overcome enduring problems and restrictions at the main airport should be reconsidered as an ultimately futile strategy.

“One way to avoid that is to contemplate shutting  down Sydney airport completely on the opening of a new super Sydney airport that will have the space, and the superb infrastructure needed to provide fast and efficient access for all travellers.

“There is no need to banish anyone to a new Sydney airport if it is the only Sydney airport. Let’s do everything right in a new one where everyone will have to go. Let Sydney Airport’s owners benefit from this process by realising the enormous value of the land at the existing airport and its potential for airport, industry or  residential developments. One outstandingly good Sydney Airport is always going to be better than two, one of which will always be widely considered second best.”

Godfrey said he did not have a specific location in mind but it would most likely be found on land rather than out to sea.

In his address, Godfrey also described the current notion of airline consolidations as a panacea for the industry as a fool’s paradise approach and advanced a radical concept for revenue joint ventures as a more appropriate competitive response.

He disclosed that he is a founder of the Virgin Galactic “rocket rides” enterprise  and that the technology now being tested in the US was as much a forerunner of new ways of swiftly flying long distances as were the technologies used by the great aviation adventurers and visionaries such as Sir Charles Kingsford Smith.

Peter Fray

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

Here at Crikey, we saw a mighty surge in subscribers throughout 2020. Your support has been nothing short of amazing — we couldn’t have got through this year like no other without you, our readers.

If you haven’t joined us yet, fetch your first 12 weeks for $12 and start 2021 with the journalism you need to navigate whatever lies ahead.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey