Sydney Airports terminal areas, a tiny site, locked in by politics:Wikipedia Commons

There is more than a trace of smoke to suggest that NSW’s O’Farrell government may ambush the Gillard Government’s peculiar and opaque resistance to a 2nd Sydney Airport at Badgerys Creek in the course of changing its own anti any new Sydney airport stance.

This situation is being driven by three factors.

  • The big end of town thinks a 2nd Sydney Airport is needed ASAP
  • The western Sydney business and political attitude is moving toward supporting the jobs and opportunities the new airport would bring, and
  • Labor is, whether correctly or otherwise, seen as shielding real estate interests in preserving the Badgerys Creek site for anything but its intended purpose which is a major new airport in the Sydney basin.

A very substantial report on the Sydney airport crisis appears in today’s AFR.

The AFR concentrates on the total disdain and disbelief with which the airlines and the investment community hold claims by Sydney Airport that it can meet the demands of the Asia Century until at least 2049, and achieve the efficiency gains to cater for growth within the current airports physical and legislated boundaries in relation to capped traffic levels and a jet curfew.

Sydney Airport’s claims are ridiculous, and have never addressed the huge volume of jets larger than any built today that will be linking Australia and Asia by 2029 never mind 2049.

Nor do those claims address the strong growth in demand for air travel in the western and northwestern parts of Sydney from which access to Sydney Airport is chronically congested.

In recent weeks the announced development of Port Macquarie airport to A320 or 737 standard signals the imminent consequences of regional NSW demand migrating upwards from small turbo-prop jets to dozens of standard sized domestic jets within 10-15 years.

Whatever the truth about the policy settings of Labor in its resolute but inadequately detailed rejection of a second airport at the site the Commonwealth owns at Badgerys Creek, it is by far the best place for such an airport, with the costs of its development borne by whomever buys the site and the obligations to build an airport off the Federal Government, at a net gain to Treasury.

It would be possible to make an even larger airport in Sydney’s west by using a so called ‘Nepean’ site just west of the Badgerys site. However Federal Labor, having invested in an impartial Federal-State review of new airport sites which found in favor of Badgerys Creek a year ago, promptly rejected it without detailed explanation, and pushed for one at Wilton.

The Wilton options are seriously compromised by uneven terrain and new housing and an inferior location in terms of access compared to Badgerys Creek.