The latest on Western Sydney Airport

Sydney’s proposed second airport at Badgery’s Creek is expected to commence construction in 2018. WSA Co was incorporated by the Australian government in Aug-2017, charged with the design and construction of Western Sydney Airport. Let’s take a look at the most recent updates regarding this important development for tourism, trade and transport in Sydney and all of Australia – with the airport one of the hot topics at CAPA’s recent 2018 Australia Pacific Aviation & Corporate Travel Summit (APAS 18).

WSA will not be just a secondary airport to Kingsford Smith, says CEO

Western Sydney Airport (WSA) CEO Graham Millet, speaking at APAS 18, has confidently proclaimed WSA will not be a secondary airport to Sydney’s main Kingsford Smith Airport. According to Mr Millet, WSA’s remit from the Australian Government is to serve both full and low cost carriers, domestically and internationally, as well as being a regional freight hub.

“Western Sydney residents have deserved an airport for a long time and now they’re going to get one”, Mr Millet said. A priority for the new facility is to be “truly digital”, with technology geared towards providing an “unparalleled service for the first time in this country”, according to Mr Millet.

The CEO however warned WSA must remain curfew free “for the benefit of the nation” and not repeat the “mistakes” of Kingsford Smith Airport. Mr Millet believes it is “almost criminal” for houses to be so close to the Kingsford Smith runway.

Western Sydney Airport surface transport question overlooks local catchment

Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue chair Christopher Brown, speaking at APAS 18, said the question of surface transport at Western Sydney Airport often overlooks the local catchment area. He said it is often based on the premise of travellers connecting to the airport from Sydney’s CBD. Mr Brown emphasised Western Sydney is the only urban centre with 2.3 million people globally without an airport. According to Mr Brown, there is “existing demand today” which stands to grow further once the airport is constructed in the next decade, when the local population is likely to be over three million.

Mr Brown also went on to suggest the ‘Aerotropolis’ (airport city) concept proposed for WSA is “in reality” not where the Government “draws lines on maps”. Instead, a more organic creation of the Aerotropolis is likely, with businesses needing flexibility in terms of where to base their operations. As a result, Mr Brown believes the concept “absolutely” needs a strong delivery plan, potentially from a Federal authority and other stakeholders. It would make sense for “less prescriptive, more enabling” protocols, in order to maximise private sector involvement and have the Aerotropolis prosper, as proposed.

Board of Airline Representatives of Australia (BARA) executive director Barry Abrams, speaking at APAS 18, believes WSA has a real opportunity to take “a bit of the market” from Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport. A proportion of Western Sydney’s population of 2 million is likely to travel to a closer airport, rather than Kingsford Smith.

However, Mr Abrams asserted the need for Western Sydney Airport to be curfew-free. WSA could provide lucrative freighter links to Southeast Asia/North Asia, with Kingsford Smith’s curfew often not meeting the requirements for time sensitive perishables.

A rail link to WSA should be innovative

Transportation Associates director Peter Thornton, speaking at APAS 18, said the level of innovation required in the WSA rail link project (if it goes forward) could draw inspiration from Hong Kong. Mr Thornton notes the Hong Kong International Airport rail link is a dedicated fast service overlaid on a slower suburban line.

With such a plan, the link “with a little bit of tweaking” could even run all the way to Canberra and “certainly out of the Southern Highlands”, Mr Thornton believes. Also important is for passengers to actually want to use the service, with a range of other competitive options such as ridesharing, hiring cars or buses.

WSA Co awards early earthworks contract to CPB Contractors Lendlease JV

WSA Co awarded an earthworks contract to CPB Contractors Lendlease Joint Venture. The contract includes initial earthworks to level the Western Sydney Airport site for construction, building access roads and drainage, and will create up to 300 jobs onsite jobs.

WSA Co on track to deliver Western Sydney Airport by 2026

WSA Co issued the following operational highlights for FY2017/2018:

  • Established in Aug-2018 as an Australian Government Business Enterprise charged with building and operating Western Sydney Airport;
  • Chair and first round of board appointed. Full board appointed in Nov-2017;
  • Electricity transmission line relocation on airport site commenced in Dec-2017;
  • CEO appointed in Feb-2018;
  • Draft airport site layout submitted for consideration in Apr-2018;
  • Airport projected to support 11,000 direct and indirect jobs in construction and 27,000 when jobs when operational.

WSA Co CEO Graham Millett commented: “Everyone at WSA Co is focused on safely and efficiently meeting our 2026 deadline to have Western Sydney Airport open for our passenger, airline and freight customers”.

WSA Co appoints Bechtel to assist in airport design project, replicating work at London airports

WSA Co awarded Bechtel a contract to assist WSA Co manage the airport design project. WSA Co CEO Graham Millett commented: “Bechtel is one of the world’s most experienced airport builders, having managed the construction of Hong Kong International Airport… The company is also helping to deliver expansions to London’s Gatwick and City airports in a similar delivery management capacity to their role with Western Sydney Airport”.

WSA Co calls for registrations of interest to deliver visitor centre with views of construction site

WSA Co called (13-Jul-2018) for registrations of interest to deliver a visitor centre with views of the Western Sydney Airport construction site. The visitor centre will be built in an elevated position near one end of the runway, with direct views to where the terminal will be located. Registration of interest includes finalising the centre’s design, as well as construction, which is due to commence later in 2018. The visitor centre is due to open around mid 2019.