Apr 15, 2014

Badgerys Creek: A modest start and no forced flight transfers

Sydney's second airport at Badgerys Creek will start out as a single runway facility with a modest terminal, but no curfew, and no forced tranfers of flights there from existing ser

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking

[caption id="attachment_43829" align="aligncenter" width="610" caption="Rail flyover to Badgerys Creek? Work on the SW Rail Link, Transport NSW photo"][/caption] Sydney's second airport at Badgerys Creek will start out as a single runway facility with a modest terminal, but no curfew, and no forced tranfers of flights there from existing services to the main Kingsford Smith airport. Work will start in 2016, it would open in the next decade, and the actual airport would be paid for largely by private investment. The Prime Minister Tony Abbott, said it would be a case of roads first and airport second, with the budget providing for an infrastructure package for western Sydney which also includes a start on the building of an airport. (When pressed on rail he tried to avoid the 'r' word by referring to 'other infrastructure' but conceded that a western rail loop through the new airport was desirable, as it was desirable that it be owned and paid for by NSW like its other railways!) Work will begin on the airport by 2016, after a required-by-law one to two year long process during which the government would 'assist' Sydney Airport's private owners to decide whether or not they would exercise their first right of refusal to own the new airport. "We want to get cracking on this" the PM said, adding that "there has been too much studying and too little deciding for 40 years." It was envisaged that the airport would be operational in the middle of the next decade. If Sydney Airport doesn't exercise its right to own the airport at Badgerys Creek the opportunity would be extended to other investors which the PM said could include foreign investors subject to FIRB approvals. (There is a history of foreign investment in a number of Australian airport owners and managers.) "We are certainly not saying Badgerys Creek should have a curfew," Mr Abbott said. He said he didn't expect the noise issue at Badgerys Creek to be anwhere near as bad as at Sydney Airport. "There is a quite a signicant buffer zone around this airport for industrial developments." His deputy and transport minister Warrne Truss said that the noisy aircraft of the past were being replaced by the likes of Boeing 787s which were as much as 60% quieter. "The noisy aircraft aren't in the air anymore" Truss said. (Especially so in 10 years time). Abbott and Truss both said that airlines would be free to decide what types of flights they would operate and how often to the new airport. Truss said that while the slots reserved at Sydney Airport for regional or rural services would be unaffected by the building of the new airport, growth in those services would in time exhaust the available protected slots meaning that regional flights to Badgerys Creek would occur. The PM said that Badgerys Creek was intended to be an airport for western Sydney, and its services would come from growth and western Sydney demand, not from an enforced transfer of flights from Sydney Airport, something that cabinet had ruled out as a matter of principle. The Prime Minister said there would be further announcements in coming days with the NSW government over the details of the infraastructure package to be funded in the May budget.

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32 thoughts on “Badgerys Creek: A modest start and no forced flight transfers

  1. ghostwhowalksnz

    So Tony Abbot International Airport has moved from the ‘maybe’ list to the ‘could be’.
    So how is Melbournes ‘second airport’ turning out ?. 5 flights a day ?

  2. Ben Sandilands

    Much the annoyance of Avalon Airport it early achievement seems to have been to ‘encourage’ Melbourne Airport to be less costly to use than it would otherwise have been.

    Melbourne Airport’s classic game response to Avalon is to build the T4 low cost carrier terminal, which may well end up larger than the current domestic wings by 2030, or alternatively, have moved its overflow into them.

    Not that this makes me feel rapt. It’s just how it is.

  3. nonscenic

    “The noisy aircraft aren’t in the air anymore” Truss said.
    It seems a dangerous statement of reality for a politician to make since it weakens the argument for retaining the Sydney Airport curfew, which in turn reduces the traffic pressure and need for a second airport.

    It would seem that the only multiple airport cities globally that work are those where there are good transport connections linking the airports with the CBD and with one another. Avalon and Badgery’s Creek don’t seem to fit this model.

  4. Mayan

    I can recall vividly a conversation with a taxi driver in Sydney in the mid-90s. He had recently bought some land near Badgerys Creek with the intention of getting compensation. You just know the protests of the NIMBYs and BANANAs are coming 🙂

  5. michael r james

    I’m going to re-post my comment from previous post, since Abbott has confirmed his colours: road good, rail bad.

    Good luck with getting international investors with this wonderful forward looking “plan” of Abbotts. Clearly he has been dragged kicking and screaming by Hockey and maybe Truss. Really knows how to get a big infrastructure project of national importance off the ground (sorry). Really, other than my preferred option of closing down KSA and moving everything to Sydney West, they should do what most big cities do when the old inner-city airport becomes congested: move international flights to the new airport and keep some domestic flights at the old one. (Think JFK + LaGuardia, or Dulles + National. Or Paris-CDG + Orly.)

    comet; (& Ben)
    “If it was really being built to service people in the West and Northwest they would put in a rail link to the West and Northwest. But they won’t.”

    Of course they won’t. It costs money. (Even neglecting Abbott’s hatred of public transport.) According to Crikey’s other blogger on these issues:

    [According to the Government’s own feasibility study of the airport line, rail to airports is justified on operational grounds when passenger volumes though the airport reach around 60 million p.a. However Melbourne Airport currently handles around 30 million p.a. and doesn’t expect to reach 60 million p.a. until after 2030.]

    Slightly fantastic and surreal, huh? In Australia the econometric “smartest guys in the room” don’t plan for the future, they wait for it to sneak up on them from behind and clobber them over the head with a baseball bat (with congestion & its costs; with allowing decades of car-dependence creating never-ending demands for freeway widening etc; monopoly rent-seeking profits on car parking etc; not to mention capacity-constrained economic and business growth).

    I note that when Hong Kong relocated its airport from Kai Tak to Chep Lap Kok (1997) its air traffic was about 30m pax. But heck, it so stupidly ignored those pesky economic-rationalists and built the world’s biggest air terminal and efficient rail (and bus and ferry) transport system. Sixteen years later it is about to break thru the 60m pax (reached 59m in 2013). I mean, what kind of idiot was running the place back then? Think of all the money they could have saved by waiting until they hit that 60m before building good transport? And I am sure the roads and buses would have coped easily with those 12 million train passengers. Truly, a no-brainer.

  6. freddagg

    So… we are to get an airport in the “west”.

    Governments have learnt nothing.
    We will get an airport and we will like it.

    We have ‘approval’ for an airport where we do not know the alignment of runways (and therefore flight paths)

    Who needs a pesky environmental impact statement? Last time I looked, the dam was still out that way.

    24 years ago, I built a home in the Penrith region and tried to make an informed decision by checking flight paths etc only to have that ‘plan’ changed and then ‘canned’. Now it is full steam ahead without any plans other than they will start building by 2016.

    And whatever we get, we will get 24hrs a day.

    All because the News press keep shouting from their front page – “we’re for western Sydney” (whilst nicely ensconced in Holt St Sydney)

    I hope the the owners of Kingsford Smith have deep pockets to put this to rest once and for all.

  7. Glen

    Michael, 2030 is just 16 years away. Subtract some planning and build time and you’re left with what, a bit over a decade early spend. That’s accepting the premise (60 million pa required), which is weak, and the projection, which is probably weaker, as you demonstrate. Alan Davies is this odd mixture: often sensible, always parochial, sometimes so weird you wonder what he could be thinking.

  8. chris turnbull

    Ben do we know exactly how long the first right of refusal provision operates for? How long could the current owners of KSA delay before they absolutely had to make a decision?

  9. Malcolm Street

    The stink has already started, as have calls for a curfew on the new airport. As blind Freddy could see, the decades of stuffing around have meant that there is now extensive building near the airport site in what was at the time of original selection an isolated area.

    The government is about to find just how difficult the politics of a new Sydney airport are. The last government to make such a determined decision was Whitlam in 1973 with Galston and look how far that got…

    And frankly I don’t see how much can happen at the airport until there are high-speed links to KSA. If the pressure is on the regional carriers to move there, cue all hell breaking loose from the Nationals.

  10. patrick kilby

    Malcolm the current rail link with airport extension will take 30mins to KSA, not many other airports have 30min connections – think Heathrow/Gatwick 2hrs;JFK La/Guardia 1hr; Narita/Haneda 1hr plus; so 30mins on non High Speed rail is fine.

  11. Salamander

    It’s an airstrip. More comedy material, anyway.

  12. michael r james

    Listen, Mr Dagg (#6), if you want to live in the 20th, let alone the 21st century, and have all the “advantages” of a big cosmopolitan city like Sydney (including jobs, hospitals & education) then you have to accept it needs to build new major infrastructure occasionally. If you don’t then you need to piss off out further into the boondocks where you will never have to worry about gummint intrusion. (and we don’t have to listen to your whingeing; except of course then you’ll be whingeing about no infrastructure because the gummint only builds it for those wankers in places like Penrith). You know, somewhere like Orange or Burke.

    In any case, not only has there been endless warning about this airport, it is very unlikely the flight path–or more importantly the noise-affected path–will affect you up in Penrith. Looking at the map (Ben’s last post) Penrith looks further away than I am from Brisbane airport. And if you are right on the southern border because you foolishly bought some too cheap land (because it was within the noise profile) then you forgot: if it was too cheap to believe …. (no free lunch, etc etc).

  13. michael r james

    @Malcolm Street at 4:54 pm

    Apparently “blind Freddy” (Dagg) couldn’t see.

    (Sorry, couldn’t resist…)

  14. Roger Roger

    Ben, Heard your interview with Adam Shirley this afternoon, Canberra ABC Radio and talk about the new Canberra airport. Hope they get some international carriers flying directly into here so can bypass Sydney altogether and help to break the Sydney Airport hub monopoly.

    BTW learnt you live among Qantas pilots in the southern highlands LOL!

  15. Rocket Rocket

    Ben – wish I had heard Abbott just to see him grimace when forced to mention the “r” word! He should go to LA, where they decided in the 50s that if you built enough freeways you didn’t need anything else. Eventually of course they had to build a metro train network, ironically some of it using the old “Red Car” tunnels from the 1940s!

    I think that “Red Car” story was part of what’s called the Great Streetcar Scandal, where car and oil companies bought tram networks across the USA and then shut them down.

  16. Dan Dair

    Rocket Rocket,
    ‘I think that “Red Car” story was part of what’s called the Great Streetcar Scandal, where car and oil companies bought tram networks across the USA and then shut them down’

    The tale is well-known though I don’t know for a fact that it’s true.

    However, in a free-market, you do what you need to do to sell your product, don’t you.?

    Sometimes buying-up the competition & closing it down is a sensible long-term strategy.

    I think it was mid-1990’s before LA decided that things were bad enough to warrant spending public-money to resurrect the ‘old’ infrastructure.

  17. michael r james


    From Reinventing Los Angeles: Nature and Community in the Global City
    by Robert Gottlieb, 2007.

    [Even as late as 1945, when the Pacific Electric Railway sold its Yellow Car system to a national consortium known as National City Lines, the company had managed to stay in the black during the war years and was still operating more than 1,000 interurban cars, 373 miles of track, and 421 buses. By the time of the purchase of the Yellow Car system and several other acquisitions by the NCL consortium in a number of cities around the country, however, the interurbans had become vulnerable, a situation reinforced by National City LIne’s strategy to eliminate passenger rail service in favor of its new bus systems. This major new transportation system player was back ed by the largest automobile, trucking,oiil and rubber interests, such as Standard Oil and General Motors, which became both investors and suppliers. It succeeded in facilitating the shift away from the interurbans. But that trend had already begun to occur in Los Angeles and elsewhere prior to the NCL acquisitions. Even storied lines such as the interurban service to Alhambra in the San Gabriel Valley, which was first established in 1902 , had aready been eliminated in favor of bus service prior to the NCL acquisitions.

    When the NCL consortium was eventually charged and successfully prosecuted during the late 1940s for violation of federal antitrust laws (though fines were minimal and non one served time in prison), this shift in ownership came to be seen as a full-blown conspiracy. Whether such a conspiracy was fully or even partly responsible for the dismantling of the interurban systems has since become a major source of debate among transportation researchers and analysts. For some, the court case, which received little attention at the time, was clear evidence of a conspiratorial intent on the part of the investor-supplier partners to shift away from a rail-oriented transportation system.]

  18. Dan Dair

    michael r james,
    I wasn’t taking issue here.!

    What I’d previously read & heard was that the Red Car Co. had slipped into financial difficulties before they were bought-out.?

    Also, at the time, rail-cars/trams were considered ‘old-fashioned’ & the bus/coach replacements were thought of as being ‘the future’.

    I know that there were some considerable distress at some of the tram closures, but others seemed to have been closed without any fuss.?

    I haven’t read nearly enough to confirm or dispute any conclusions.

    It does though, look like a good bit of (private) business from the consortium which bought the Red Car Co.
    For around forty years, LA, amongst other cities, generated a massive bit of business for the automobile industry (& for that matter all the various bits of infrastructure necessary for the car to flourish), right up to the point that it dawned on the great & the good of that city, that it was virtually impossible to go anywhere quickly during the ‘rush-hour(s)’ & that a re-think of transportation policy was a necessity.

  19. Glen McCabe

    On topic (ish),

    Ben, is it possible to hear your interview yesterday online? (BTW I’m based in NZ…)



  20. Ben Sandilands


    I had a look at their site:

    Couldn’t see that topic had been archived. The station isn’t answering the phone it seems. I suspect 666 ABC Canberra is like Plane Talking. Good intentioned, but up to its eye balls just trying to deal with what has been a very fast moving news flow in recent weeks.

  21. errolwi

    Watch 666 ABC Canberra’s Soundcloud as well

  22. freddagg

    @ Mr James (#12)

    I did piss off to the boondocks 20 odd year ago.

    As stated in my post, I made an informed decision based on the information available at the time and I was happy to live within the noise contours shown for my el-cheapo block of dirt in the boonies at the time.

    The point is that plan was ‘changed’ soon afterward. It was subsequently shelved and now has now done a Lazarus.

    Progress you say, but I say ineptitude as there is no current plan showing what they want to do.

    Maybe my ‘problem’ (as suggested by you) is that I DIDN’T forget.

    Governments have let housing spring up all around the place and presumably someone will ‘plan’ around those to pick a line of best fit to least inconvenience the boonie folk way out west. We have no idea if any plan they now develop will involve the dam being under any flight path.

    NSW doesn’t have a very good record for ‘infrastructure’ especially in terms of payment for use thereof. All that will happen (or continue to happen) is that both Governments will perpetuate more monopolies to private companies where it costs almost $20 (one way)to travel from where the new airport interchange will be and the city. This is before any extra charge for the link from the new airport to the M7.

    As for rail, don’t hold your breath. Look at the debacle of the airport link through Green Square to KSA. The Government allows a surcharge of $12.60 (in addition to the normal train fare).
    Presumably, this will at least double as we will have 2 private rail line extensions (one at each end of the state rail system)

    Mr James, I don’t mind “gummit” as long as they stick to their promises and stop trying to stick it to us boonies way out here in the west.

    What has happened is a massive PR exercise endorsed by Government and big business to force something down our throats which has no plan and even if it did, will change at the drop of a hat in the name of “progress” and “much needed infrastructure”

    Bah humbug!

  23. michael r james

    #21 freddagg at 9:52 am

    Most of your post is not to the point, and says nothing almost every commenter here has not complained or commented about (me included, see #5).

    The only relevant fact here is that the Badgerys Creek airport site has remained reserved land by the federal government for all these decades, for obvious reasons. If you didn’t do your due diligence when buying, or you took some sort of bet that it wouldn’t happen during your tenure, then you should not whinge about it now. By all means whinge (like me, #5 and almost all of my posts!) about all the other details etc but I am utterly sick of hearing Australians trying to stop our country joining the 21st century because of their miserabilist and usually trivial self-interests.

    (Now that was a bit harsh, so please keep posting just stop with the personal whinges. The future is coming to your bit of the world. Embrace it.)

  24. michael r james

    #18 Dan Dair at 4:20 am

    Just providing some facts, mamm. Dats all.
    You must know I am a hyper-nerd by now so I dug out what history on the subject I knew I had on my bookshelves. BTW, Robert Gottlieb was being typically academically non-partisan but I think he and anyone knowing these facts does actually believe it was a conspiracy, if not quite a cloak-and-dagger Philip Marlowe type one.

    I actually believe LA will have transformed itself after another decade (or two) of (re)building its streetcar system. It is costing an absolute fortune–much more than it should, riddled with all the usual townhall quasi-corruption to get things done etc–but is finally starting to resemble a network. When the “subway to the beach” (Santa Monica Line) opens soon I think they will finally start to see a jump in ridership (that line of course passes thru Rodeo drive, Sunset Blvd, Century City etc so will have all kinds of useful destinations.

    I also think they will end up with a fabulous bike network. Lots of people already bike and they have the weather (hardly ever rains in Southern California …) and most of the city is very flat. Paradoxically because of their huge road & freeway network I reckon they will be able to build segregated bikeways easier than other cities.

    It’s 7 years since I have been thru LA but my habit when arriving at LAX is to head straight to Venice Beach (at least if it is not high season), often just by local bus, or by shuttle (which turns out to take almost as long and often involves sitting in the 8-seater or whatever for an age while the driver tries to fill it with pax and then does a big tour dropping each off to their diff. destination; so I only use the shuttle if it is very late at night). I stay at the Cadillac Hotel right on the beach (it is not glitzy despite its Art Deco ambience and used to cost only $40! I think I have seen on the web that it has had a makeover and probably now charges … too much.) In the morning take a breakfast at the beach-side cafe opposite and watch as the promenade comes alive with joggers, buskers and Venice “wildlife”. Then take a leisurely walk along the ≈5km beach path to Santa Monica (altogether too slick, middle-American and expensive for me) and catch the bus along Sunset to UCLA in Westwood, which is usually where I am headed. I look forward to the day (presumably next visit) when I can do it on the Metro!

    On a worry-warts note, I do kind of wonder what may happen if they have another quake like Loma Prieta (which of course they will) and end up with some hyper-expensive disconnected tubes in the ground!

  25. freddagg

    @ Mr James (#22)

    The relevant point here is that I did do my due diligence and made my choice based upon it.
    Why should I not be entitled to complain (or as so succinctly put by you, “whinge”), when the goal posts have moved?

    Do you think any investor consortiums would be entitled to complain if the Government ‘changed’ the details of any plan after selling it?

    But that’s okay – us “miserabilist and usually trivial self-interested” boondock dwellers will just have to live with it in the name of “joining the 21st century”

    As for my other comments regarding ‘infrastructure successes’ (of any party irrespective of their political persuasion), be careful what you wish for – their track record is demonstrably abysmal

  26. michael r james


    We should save other readers from any more.
    But the only relevant issue was not what any particular bunch of pollies said at any given moment, but the FACT that the land remained in federal ownership all this time. So the goal posts actually never changed. And any aviation or business expert (or urban planning expert) was saying that it was inevitable. You’re not saying you actually swallowed the Winton alternative are you! How long have you been reading Ben’s blog? How long have you been reading?

    Re whingeing about Australian infrastructure backwardness, I guess you actually don’t read Crikey blogs otherwise you would know I am a gold-medal Olympian in that particular artform! I could and do whinge for Australia! Australia is shockingly bad in almost all regards in transport, especially public transport and urban planning in general. I have no faith at all that they will develop Badgerys Creek in an appropriate fashion. The reason is that they don’t want to have to put any real investment in. As usual they expect others to do it for them. Naturally there is no free lunch and it is Australia that suffers. You don’t give away assets like international airports (or landing slots) without paying a heavy and long term price. Which is why no sensible country (USA, HK, Singapore, France etc) does it.

    But anyway, your complaints are indeed a part of the great Australian complacency and is why the politicians behave the way they do. NIMBYs and BANANAs one and all.

  27. Pete Simpkins

    “Why should I not be entitled to complain (or as so succinctly put by you, “whinge”), when the goal posts have moved?”
    You’re free to complain, but not entitled to a government guarantee on any development, particularly when you buy in a region that sooner or later was going to get an airport.
    God forbid this government try to placate residents in this area – it’s utterly impossible, as your benefit is always going to result in someone else’s loss. The government should legislate to stop Badgery’s Creek being hijacked by locals who’ve known damn well for over 20 years that an airport would eventually come.

  28. freddagg

    @ Mr Jame and Mr Simpkins

    So it’s ok to change the goal posts under the guise that ‘all we told you and published and distributed wasn’t really the truth and all you simpeltons in the boonies should have known (or expected) it was all a ruse’

    Let us see the Government try that on the big end of town and change the rules for the clamouring private consortia after contracts have been bid and won.

    Guess I should have been stayed in the Eastern Suburbs 25 years ago and become a lawyer

  29. freddagg

    I agree – enough

  30. Agfox

    freddag & michael r james re Enough

    Damn & blast, I’d just settled in my recliner with popcorn…

  31. M K

    Looking at flight path plans from government reports for the likely options I think greddagg has a right to complain especially if he lives in Penrith. According to old docs looks like Glenmore Park to Penrith city will be most affected by any of the propose options (not the pictures from the daily telegraph). This is quite a populated area and debunks the notion that these residents will not be affected. In fact looking at it they seem to be more affected than even Blacktown will be.

    No one has the facts right, and the facts being shown are spun to support the airport. A lit of housing estates have moved in the area since. If they were going to do it they should of done it ages ago. Think its too late now looking at these documents (Google flight path PDF reports)

  32. Dan Dair

    There are bound to be winners & losers in any event like this.

    It’s been pretty clear that an airport at Badgery’s Creek has been on the table for a long time & as far as I’m aware has never been taken off the table during the last 40 years or so, though it has been variously hot & cold as a subject.

    I don’t know which areas will be likely to get compensation for the noise-pollution, but as Confirmed Sceptic said about KSA’s neighbours; “you bought cheap because of the noise, now just suck it up”.
    Harsh, but fair.

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