May 9, 2017

Can’t Sydney West airport be built sooner and at less cost?

Hold those billions in 'good debt'. There is an alternative way of building Sydney's 2nd airport without any?

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking

A Qantas A330 makes the first international passenger flight from Wellcamp, an export drive charter to China

Hours before tonight’s Federal Budget applies billions of dollars of so-called ‘good debt’ on the construction of Sydney’s second jet airport the businessman who built a new airport near Toowoomba in Queensland says he can’t understand either the price tag nor the delay until 2026.

As the ABC reports in an interview John Wagner, the driving force behind the Wellcamp Airport, he says it could be open after three years hard but determined work, and for a fraction of the money.

It is of course, perfectly true that the second Sydney Airport for the Commonwealth owned site at Badgerys Creek is a much more complex and instantly higher capacity airport than Wellcamp.

The Queensland airport has taken charter flights including by a Qantas A330, hosts a Cathay Pacific 747-8F fresh food cargo flight to the vital China market, and is regularly serviced by Dash 8 and smaller turbo-props as well as an Embraer E-70, and associated with an enterprising business park.

But even in recent weeks the official guidance on building Badgerys Creek as defined by terminal, runways and other infrastructure within the 1700 hectare site has crept upwards by stealth from $5 billion to $6 billion.

Mr Wagner might have asked “What is going on?” but clearly chose to be more circumspect.

The big news (and hoped for by many of his supporters) is that his family is interested in taking on the project as part of a construction syndicate.

The federal government tends to conflate the total cost of Badgerys Creek by including the roadworks now underway outside the actual second airport site, which are worth, depending on time of day and who is talking, somewhere as little as an extra $4.8 billion or as much as $7 billion. Or maybe more.

But as the Turnbull government also points out, that spending is essential infrastructure for western Sydney in general, something the NSW government, and state and federal oppositions, are also keen to endorse, but particularly in the form of two new rail projects, one to build a Macarthur to St Marys north-south line that would run through the airport, and separately extend the SW Rail link to Leppington to the airport, which is so easy to do it almost looks like that was always intended to happen.

John Wagner proved that something as major as a large jet aircraft runway and associated works could be done for around $200 million and in a very short period of time.

Provided however that such work fits perfectly into a much larger vision for the expansion of the initial constructions, the issue at Badgerys Creek would become one of keeping up with the demand it generates.

This makes for an interesting contrast to the approach of the government to the project. It sees the airport throwing open its doors after another nine years of purgatory for Sydney with the current over stretched airport to reveal a curfew free runway able to handle anything serving domestic and international routes.

The lights come on, the retail plazas open, the jets rock up, and who knows, the trains glide into and out of the station, even if full of local commuters going to work in the growth half of the Sydney basin.

The Wagnerian alternative, to use operatic license, is to get something, anything, regularly flying out of it three years from now, and benefit from the surging demand that will build all of that extra handling capacity and retail activity ASAP. And, drumroll…, probably without calling on taxpayer dollars.

Let’s hope that John Wagner and his associates get an invitation to participate in the future development of Badgerys Creek. Waiting until 2026 for relief from the current airport does seem like a terribly long and unnecessary time.

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81 thoughts on “Can’t Sydney West airport be built sooner and at less cost?

  1. comet

    Wagner sounds like a better alternative than allowing Sydney Airport to build it.

  2. Rainer

    Why not build a small but extendable airport first to take the night flights and the overflow from Sydney and then expand gradually as the demand rises (or not).

    1. Ben Sandilands

      I think the first thing that would happen is that two or three airlines would each schedule a rotation of up to two flights an hour involving nearby cities like Melbourne and Brisbane for each of the three hours between 0700 and 1000 because of the sheer frustration their customers from half of the Sydney basin experience getting flights to or from the existing airport. That demand would build. The mere existence of convenient flights in that half of Sydney would also add to the attractions of enterprises locating themselves in a part of the metropolitan sprawl with what might be more affordable or usable land. Once the second Sydney Airport opens it is a solution to a problem that bedevils such a large number of travellers that growth will probably exceed even optimistic forecasts.

      1. Ian Fraser

        I agree with that – my view of the demand projections which various Big 4 firms have done is that they all seem to be based one way or another on Booz modelling from several years earlier where it wasn’t at all certain where the 2nd airport would be; so Booz has assumed no PT links at all, merely road transport – and for fairly long distances (remember Wilton, Richmond,…).

        Now that it is at the perhaps closest location of many alternatives, even though a distance like Avalon to Melbourne, it will have some sort of PT links and if it does get really good rail links then the upside is good, even in the short term.

        1. ghostwhowalksnz

          A rail link means nothing. Look up the average daily boardings at the two Sydney Airport stations , then deduct those passengers transferring from one terminal to another. Airport is not in the top 40 ( Edgecliffe is 31, Macquarie University is 37
          Or another way is to look at ‘rail share’ journey to work, you get 15% for Sydney airport + stations either side.
          Outer suburbs share of rail for work journey is much further down at 5% or so.
          The evidence is that Airport rail stations dont attract the numbers travellers/workers you might expect. An airport rail station in the outer suburbs will have poorer patronage as a % than the current airport, following the lower rail share of outer suburbs. As well a new airport will likely have cheap access car parks initially.

          1. Ben Sandilands

            You made these same assertions some months ago. Those who use the rail service, whether to fly, work at the airport, or just pass through it as part of a suburbia to CBD commute would be incredulous at your claim. Here is one of many recent links to stories that identify the source of their data.

          2. ghostwhowalksnz

            Ben , we have gone over this before. You are counting the passengers that use stations other than the airport.
            Mascot and Green Park arent airport stations . Ive looked up actual peak hour /daily traffic number for Sydney rail network. They are in all cases equivalent to minor stations- that no ones heard of, eg Granville.

            The SMH headline and lead has mislead you, but the truth is in the body of the story
            “latest accounts for the private operator reveal total patronage across its four stations – including Green Square and Mascot –”
            It confuses people to see Airport line and Airport stations. they are not the same.
            I have used original source data – Bureau of Transport Statistics NSW
            A lot of useful information , including a table of the Top 40 busiest stations in Sydney. ( AM peak 3 hrs) Mascot is 35 , no sign of Airport . Its an old media trick of using ‘millions’ to seem a lot. A small station with only 3k passengers a day is ‘1 million’- ka-ching!

            I would definitely use Sydney Airport rail station, but I understand why most passengers shun rail. The further out the airport is the less will use a rail option. It doesnt fit in with how most people in the Western Suburbs travel.

          3. beardfear

            Demand at the existing airport stations is seriously suppressed by the $13.80 “station access fee” charged on top of the regular one-way rail fare. If the state government got rid of that, patronage would quickly soar – like it did at Green Square and Mascot when they removed the smaller access fees at those stations.

  3. Mick Gilbert

    When making comparisons with Wellcamp (Beisbane West YBWW) it needs to be remembered that Wellcamp has no ATC facilities (it’s uncontrolled airspace), no permanent in-situ fire fighting or emergency services facilities, no instrument landing system, no navigation aids, a relatively small hardstand (two parking positions for large jcommercial airplanes), no airbridges and I’m pretty sure that there’s no inflight catering support. It only took 19-20 months to build because there simply wasn’t that much to build; it’s essentially a 2.7km runway, a taxiway, a 36,000 m² hardstand, two buildings and a car park – the entire site is only about 4.2 km².

    1. Dan Dair

      Mick Gilbert,
      With the greatest of respect, the points you make are irrelevant.!

      If the Wellcamp model was transferred directly to Badgerys’s, notwithstanding the ‘full-length’ runway needed at BCA, all the ancillary stuff & facilities you’re describing would cost more than Wellcamp but wouldn’t add to the construction period.
      It’s not as if one bloke is building the lot. (If you add more stuff, it takes him longer.!!)
      The Wagners will put in a crew which is the right size to build the facility on schedule & price. That’s what they did at Wellcamp & I imagine that their experience in construction would stand them in good stead to do the same at Badgery’s.?
      All the ancillaries can be constructed & installed at the same time as the other work is proceeding.

      Your final comment, IMO actually emphasises what BCA needs to be to commence operations and in doing so start to generate a return on capital & get its foot in the door.?
      A 3200m runway, a much bigger hardstanding, 2 buildings & a car park.
      The control-tower, navigation aids, ILS, fire-station, catering and so on… can all be built as part of the initial construction, or at least planned for & facilitated at that time.
      Perhaps you have them all in place on day one, perhaps you have a schedule to initiate each of these things at certain trigger-points be that by time-periods or by aircraft movement numbers.?

      IMO Badgerys’s Creek airport NEEDS to be little more than Wellcamp on it’s opening day & anyone who says different is making a massive assumption about how quickly it will become successful.?
      What it will also need, is a very good plan for how the airport will develop over both the short & the long-term, to make sure that decisions made before a turf was cut, don’t bugger-up any of those future growth plans.?

      1. Mick Gilbert

        What exactly is the “Wellcamp model”?

        1. Dan Dair

          Mick Gilbert,
          Exactly what you identified it to be;
          “2.7km runway, a taxiway, a 36,000 m² hardstand, two buildings and a car park – the entire site is only about 4.2 km²”

          IMO, BCA will start operations with very few routes, so there’s no need to build much of an airport to start the ball rolling.?

          Whilst I fully accept that the runway needs to be over, not under 3000m & the hardstanding/gate areas need to accommodate a dozen aircraft, the rest of the airport can be pretty-much unchanged from Wellcamp on day one.?
          But importantly IMO, construction on increased hardstanding/gate areas and an extension to the terminal building should be underway at the time of opening.

          There’s no point in building a two runway, four terminal, international ready airport, if all you’re going to fly into it is a couple of ATR’s & an Embarear.?
          On the other hand, if volumes are good, right off the bat, then they’ll need the basic ability to accommodate them & have the expansion measures already in-hand.?

          Any new airport is a balancing act, of putting sufficient resources in place to do the job whilst not spending more than the minimum you need to achieve that result.?
          But Mr Wagner seems to have a better understanding of the trick than either the government or Macquarrie.?

          1. Mick Gilbert

            Dan, you are significantly underestimating the size, scale and complexity of Badgerys Creek. Wellcamp is essentially just a very good country town airport that handles less than 150,000 passengers on 3,500 movements per year; on opening BCA will be handling 3 million passengers on 27,500 movements per year. BCA Phase 1 is an order of magnitude bigger than Wellcamp will ever be and then BCA will continue to ramp up.
            Accordingly, ATC, ILS, navaids, on site fire and emergency services and inflight catering will all be required from the get go. Something that sounds like no big deal, like air bridges, lay in complexity that you may not consider when compared to Wellcamp. For example, air bridges require a multilevel terminal building and a two or three story building is a very different beast to the sort of ground level structure built at Wellcamp; stairs, escalators and lifts add a lot to costs even before you start on the other structural stuff. Even the humble car park morphs in terms of cost, complexity and time to construct when you go up (ie from a single level open carpark to a multi-level structure).
            If you set out thinking of BCA as just a country town airport that is in a perpetual state of expansion and construction it will fail as a commercial enterprise. You need to remember that BCA is going to be competing with KSA whereas Wellcamp is the only show in town. SAC would just love to see BCA developed along the lines of the Wellcamp model; they would have a field day picking it off and relegating it to an adjunct to their operations.

          2. ghostwhowalksnz

            An automated baggage system under the terminal sized for future growth – handle first 10 years without much change- would cost half of the total Wellcamp cost.
            Will Badgerys become a crew base at the start? or will the flights be run out of Melbourne and Brisbane till the traffic builds.

  4. Craig Joseph

    John Wagner for dictator. No one else in govt can seem to get anything done.

  5. patrick kilby

    There is an awful lot of earthworks to get tha land level to start with. Is Wagner talking about construction on a level site. I suspect so.

    1. Dan Dair

      Patrick Kilby,
      I would have thought that the Wagners would have had plenty of time for some ‘back of an envelope’ calculations, of what’s involved to get BCA operational.
      The earthworks are essentially a man(& woman)power issue. If they put enough machinery & tipper-trucks into the mix, they can achieve what they want to.?
      Suppose that they want to build the same format as Wellcamp, but including a longer runway & more hardstanding.
      Wellcamp cost them $200m.
      If BCA costs them $1bn, ie: 5 times more than Wellcamp,
      it’ll still be massively cheaper than any of the figures currently being banded about.
      In fact if it costs them double even that figure, it’ll still be cheaper.??????

      1. derrida derider

        The runway/s (including their earthworks) is the quickest, cheapest and least risky bit of the whole exercise. It’s all the other infrastructure – especially the terminals – that costs both time and money. With that amount of land available maybe they’d be better off putting up some big sheds for temporary terminals that you can later sell as maintenance hangars or warehouses when you’ve built your palatial terminal and associated infrastructure at your leisure. That way you get the thing up and running quickly, especially for cargo, and also get a more accurate picture of what sort of volumes that terminal etc is going to have to cope with.

        I put my garden shed together a couple of months ago, so I’ve become pretty handy with a pop riveter. I was thinking of offering those skills to Boeing for making that new MoM airliner they’re talking about, but I think I’ll put in a bid for the new BC terminal instead …

        , $6billion seems very high for a greenfields site – they are not building Changi or Heathrow here but something more akin to Adelaide, at least initially. Maybe they’re just aiming to underpromise and overdeliver – pad the schedule and budget so you can eventually say “we’ve delivered ahead of schedule and under budget”. Or maybe they’re just keen to give taxpayer’s money to some mates. Who knows?

      2. Craig Joseph

        it costs a lot more to do things in expensive Sydney than in Toowoomba. That said, BCA will not have hundreds on flights to start with. Suggest might only be a few an hour, from QF, VA, JQ, TT & maybe few a week from international carriers. Avalon model seems to be adequate. No one wants another mess like Mascot. Want a low cost airport.

  6. Deano DD

    Maq bank did the math and they are in the business of turning a profit
    They must have looked at, not only what BC would make or lose, but also the even bigger benefit of maintaining the monopoly of Sydney’s TOTAL commercial airports as a whole
    Maq would have looked at 2 years, 5 years, 10 years and perhaps 20 years
    Particularly regarding if there was a new player at BC
    What they would charge
    Would all LCCs migrate to BC
    How would BC effect KSA

    Again Maq Bank is in the business of making money and even they turned down a monopoly investment at BC even though the total cost to them was not much more than $1 billion, with the rest being picked up by the government

    Perhaps they saw what is happening at Avalon which serves Geelong and southwest Melbourne and that white elephant has to bribe Jetstar to fly there and if it were not for the bribes there would be perhaps 1 flight to Brisbane and 3 to Sydney per day

    If we were to be totally honest
    1) BC would be second choice for ALL international traffic
    Business travel = KSA
    Inbound tourism = KSA
    Most outbound tourism = KSA (a few from the western may holiday O/S but not enough to fill even a 737 to Bali)
    Even Scoot, Air Asia etc passengers would prefer KSA as its closer to where they want to go
    2) BC would be second choice for VA and QF
    Very limited business class travel from western Sydney
    Most business passengers want to get quickly to the city
    3) All regional flights prefer KSA
    Business travelers to the city
    International and domestic connections via KSA
    4) Jetstar and Tiger
    Limited holiday sectors may work from BC like Gold Coast or Sunshine Coast (not Hamilton Island as it would be too expensive for those who line in western Sydney)
    Perhaps 2-3 flights per day to Melbourne and Brisbane
    5) Freight
    With most logistics companies already set up in and around KSA it would be hard to make a case that it would work better at BC particularly when you factor in that DHL, FedEx etc send hundreds of vans and trucks out to deliver early in the morning from Mascot against the peak hour flow and this works well for them. If they were located near BC, their vehicles heading to the city would join the M4 or M5 car park and costs would soar and delivery times would suffer
    6) 24hr opps
    As far as I know BC will have a curfew, but if it was 24 hour this could be the busiest time for BC and how pathetic would that be for Sydneys second airport

    1. Mick Gilbert

      Badgerys Creek has always been planned for curfew-free 24 hour operations.

      1. Deano DD

        Perhaps it depends which party is in control when or if its built

      2. ghostwhowalksnz

        How many flights does Melbourne have ‘outside Sydneys curfew hours’
        Sydney is an endpoint destination not at all like those Middle east airports which their busiest time is late night, where its the centre hub of an intercontinental spoke system. Its very hard to get passengers to arrive at an airport at 2am ( Ok if they arrive in another plane). Tourists going to hotels arent set up for that sort of late night movement. late checkout doesnt mean even 9pm!

        1. Ben Sandilands

          Very few. It’s a good question to raise, because none of Australia’s 24 hour airports get much use between 11pm and 6 am the following morning, although at Sydney there is pressure to have slots granted between 11 pm-midnight and again, to increase the limited landing access allowed between 5-6 am, conditional on approaches from the south across Botany Bay.
          This goes to the point that Badgerys Creek is an airport primarily for those living closer to it than Sydney’s main airport, and one that will allow a large increase in international movements, which are severely slot constrained at the moment.
          If Badgerys Creek isn’t built in a timely manner, inbound traffic to Sydney will seize up. When it opens it will also accelerate the already obvious shift in large scale economic development in the western half the metropolitan area, since the options to build such developments in the traditional CBD and inner west and nearer northern areas are inherently costly and much less land is available. Sydney Airport is a drag on the development of greater Sydney as it now stands and a western alternative will I believe break that problem. Once the door is open, a great deal of activity (and capital) will come through it. There will not be a shortage of customers, international or domestic.

        2. derrida derider

          It’s true the demand for 2am passenger landings in Oz is relatively low. Not so much though for 6am landings – think about what that means for takeoff times on the other side of the world. Plus also BC is, at least initially, going to do more freight than passengers. Freight airlines don’t care about the ungodly hours they make their ground staff work.

          I reckon if anybody lived real close to BC they would be going sleepless.

    2. Dan Dair

      Deano DD, (May 9, 2017 at 8:17 pm)
      And that’s exactly why I believe rail interlinks are absolutely vital to making BCA an effective airport.
      If it stands alone it will be like Avalon.
      Interlinked KSA & BCA will work together, even if that’s not what Macquarrie would see as to their advantage at this stage.?

      1. Ian Fraser

        I think you are being naive concentrating on inter-airport rail links.
        The key is PT (better still fast rail) to where patrons wish to go or come from.
        Only a minority will be worried about interchanging between airports (even though that might be a little more in the consciousness early on).

        1. Dan Dair

          Ian Fraser,
          I completely agree that good public transport links, as well as good drive-up access are essential to the success of the new airport.

          I suspect where we’d disagree would be about how the airport will work.?
          Perhaps you envisage a second airport, which stands alone & serves each & every destination in complete isolation.? Offering no synergy of services & no opportunity for through-bookings to onward destinations.?
          It’s a plausible perspective, but one which I believe will result in an airport which doesn’t develop into the genuine domestic & international alternative to KSA.?

          IMO the only way Badgery’s will become a really successful airport is by accessing the international network at KSA
          & by that international network being able to access BCA’a own network.
          Passengers will soon be able to arrive at BCA on new routes which currently can’t get slots at KSA. Many of those passengers will be looking to fly onwards, domestically & internationally. They will only be able to do that if they can transfer between the two airports without spending excessive time &/or money.?

          IMO BCA without good rail links to KSA & the CBD will end up like Avalon or one of the many underutilised ‘second’ airports around the world.?
          That’ll be great for passengers in Western Sydney who want to go where there are direct flights, or for people who’re going to Western Sydney, but that’s it. It’ll be no use at all for travelling to Sydney & then connecting with anywhere else…….
          & that simply won’t be good enough to ensure the future success & viability of the new airport.?

          1. Ian Fraser

            I guess I should clarify and suggest that I think there will actually be rail links to the WSA.

            My only concern is that they choose rail links that don’t optimise the opportunities. If they choose the fast link then WSA will be quite an alternative to KSA given a little time.

            If they don’t do any sort of sensible rail link then it will be an Avalon-Mirabel dodo (almost) – a waste of good Federal taxpayers money; but I actually can’t see them being that dumb now that they have carefully got past the 1st right of refusal stage. Paul Fletcher handled that well.

          2. michael r james

            Ian Fraser wrote:

            My only concern is that they choose rail links that don’t optimise the opportunities.

            This is Australia. (You remember the resigned maxim “TIA”, This is Africa, well substitute our continent, and we don’t have the excuse of being dirt poor.) When–ever–did they optimize anything? First, even if a government promises to build the rail link when WSA opens, that assuredly doesn’t mean it will happen as future governments will always find reason to postpone it. Postponement and delay is the primary “tool” in Australian infrastructure planning, of which WSA just might hold the record. (Though apparently the Brisbane to Redcliffe railway–nothing more than a 5km spur–was promised by every single government since the 1930s!) Second, there will be the massive cost blowouts in both the airport and the associated roads–the railway will be the victim. Third, once the airport begins operation without rail it will be increasingly difficult to get that rail approved, because of the income from parking that will be threatened.
            Fourth, plenty of other reasons I cannot think of but someone in the road and car lobby will.

          3. michael r james

            W.R.T. my comment above:

            Second, there will be the massive cost blowouts in both the airport and the associated roads–the railway will be the victim.

            It’s started already:
            Badgerys could echo NBN cost blowout
            Damon Kitney, 12 May 2017

    3. derrida derider

      There’s a lot more passenger travel to and from the western half of Sydney than you think. KSA is a real pain to get to and from for most Sydneyites. And the Norwest business parks and Parramatta CBDs also have an awful lot more business executives in them than you seem to think.

      I reckon you are definitely dead wrong about the freight. Have a look at the area just to the north and east of BC – it is already full of massive distribution warehouses, serving the whole east coast of Oz. Combined with the slot constraints at KSA, the curfew, and eastern Sydney’s road and rail congestion, I think BC will simply take the bulk of the air freight market around Sydney almost from day one. Which will alone make traffic at KSA cheaper and easier to manage.

      1. ghostwhowalksnz

        Massive warehouses are serving mostly truck freight. Supermarket goods etc. High value freight that goes in planes doesnt need massive warehouses.
        The idea of fleets of dedicated air freighters is out of date. Its belly cargo of wide body passenger flights which are better value/time critical for freight forwarders.

        1. Mick Gilbert

          “The idea of fleets of dedicated air freighters is out of date.”
          Mmm … I’m not too sure about that, I think that Fed-Ex, UPS, DHL, SkyCargo, Air Bridge and Cargolux would probably disagree with you also. 11 of the last 15 B747-8s sold were dedicated freighters.
          Global air cargo volumes grew by nearly 4% last year, around double the growth seen over prior years. Moreover, growth in the Asia Pacific market (which represents nearly 40% of the global air freight volumes) was a very solid 9.8%. While it’s not the 6% growth rates we’ve seen in passenger volumes it a fair sign that the dedicated air freighters are here for a while.

          1. ghostwhowalksnz

            Then why is the B747-8F barely in production- even then then are built for Boeing who lease them out at market rates.
            The majority of cargo is now carried in the holds of widebodys and will continue as you get frequency and price advantages. Sure there are plenty of dedicated cargo planes, bu they dont carry to majority of the cargo

          2. Dan Dair

            If I give you due credit & accept your word that “The majority of cargo is now carried in the holds of widebodys”,
            but I also accept the statement of Derrida Derider who says; “the area just to the north and east of BC – it is already full of massive distribution warehouses, serving the whole east coast of Oz”,
            it isn’t unreasonable to imagine that dedicated cargo & mixed passenger/freight aircraft could usefully benefit from a cargo facility at the Western Sydney airport.?

          3. michael r james

            Ghost: “The majority of cargo is now carried in the holds of widebodys … ”

            Is that true for HKI which claims to be the biggest freight airport in the world? (Of course HK is a massive trans-shipment point but even so …).

            At any rate, I still agree with you. Freight companies will use both and not be very happy about using one airport 50 km from the main pax airport. Did the freight companies use Mirabel much?

          4. Mick Gilbert

            Ghostwhowalksnz, the top 10 movers of air freight move nearly 70% of all freight and they’re all operate fleets of dedicated air freighters.

          5. Mick Gilbert

            Sorry, my mistake, the top 10 movers of air freight move nearly 45% of all freight and they’re all operate fleets of dedicated air freighters. By the time you add in the other 45-odd dedicated all freight and all freight subsidiaries, I can’t see how non-freight airlines can account for more than 50% of global volumes.

          6. ghostwhowalksnz

            The big freight forwarders, even those with their own planes would be the biggest users of airline belly cargo. except for specialised , eg racehorses for Rosehill, or oversized cargo.

          7. Mick Gilbert

            “The big freight forwarders, even those with their own planes …”
            You seem to be confusing freight forwarders with air cargo airlines. Freight forwarders are non-vessel operating common carriers; by definition, they do not have their own planes (or ships or trucks).
            It would greatly inform the discussion if you could trot out some statistics or references to support your contention; I’m using IATA
            World Air Transport Statistics.
            Moreover, we might return at some point to the original argument; your contention that “The idea of fleets of dedicated air freighters is out of date.” With just 10 fleets of dedicated air freighters dominating air freight volumes, I’ll reiterate my disagreement with that notion.

        2. michael r james

          Mick Gilbert: Moreover, we might return at some point to the original argument; your contention that “The idea of fleets of dedicated air freighters is out of date.” With just 10 fleets of dedicated air freighters dominating air freight volumes, I’ll reiterate my disagreement with that notion.

          But how does it relate to the actual issue we are discussing here? That is, would such freight companies be happy to be either forced to be solely out at WSA or to have to use both WSA + KSA? Freight is a cut-throat business and having to operate two sites about 50km apart doesn’t sound too economic to this novice.

          I suppose it also depends on whether their is co-ordination on road & rail freight hubs out at, or near, WSA? Australia’s track record on this kind of thing is pretty terrible.

          1. Mick Gilbert

            Michael, you’re confusing what you’re talking about – would such freight companies be happy to be either forced to be solely out at WSA or to have to use both WSA + KSA – and what I was talking about – the mistaken contention that “The idea of fleets of dedicated air freighters is out of date”.
            However, to address what you’re talking about, the air freight companies already run mutli-site operations; take DHL, amongst their Sydney facilities they have a small air freight warehouse at Mascot, a freight forwarding warehouse 10 km away at Matraville and their main supply chain facility out at Horsely Park – their Horsely Park facility is, surprise, surprise, about 10 km from Badgerys Creek. FedEx is in a similar position; a small air freight centre at Matraville and their main facility out at Rydalmere – Rydalmere is roughly equidistant from both KSA (20 km) and BCA (25km). From a cost of operations perspective, where would you prefer to be buying or leasing the turf for a distribution facility; within 10 km of the KSA or within 10 km of BCA?

    4. Cut Snake

      Where do you get these assertions from? Who can’t afford hamilton island? And wtf would you holiday there anyway?
      Clearly you have no idea how many people that live in western Sydney that have no need for the ‘cbd’ would migrate like lemmings to be able to fly into and out of an airport at badgerys creek both business and leisure without having to negotiate the arse splitting lube free nightmare of mascot airport.

      1. Dan Dair

        Cut Snake’
        Don’t beat about the bush, mate,
        tell us how you really feel.
        Couching your displeasure with these ‘weasel-words’………
        “the arse splitting lube free nightmare of mascot airport”

        Made me laugh anyway.
        Good on you.!!

  7. Cmac

    I find it interesting anyone would be suggesting Wagners would just build a ‘Wellcamp’. They are smart operators and obviously the project would be built to what the plans/needs require, ATC, fire requirements and whatever else is required. Why would they do that at Wellcamp though when not yet required. Those who think Welcamp was built on a flat ‘cow paddock’ obviously never saw what was required to be filled and leveled, and the amount of material moved. Impressive.

    1. ghostwhowalksnz

      Ergo , it only was their smallish fleet of earthmovers, so cant have been too much. Another thing to consider is natural drainage etc. The Wagners were able to pick their site to suit the purpose. Sydney doesnt really have that choice, as Badgerys was an existing Commonwealth owned site in roughly the right area.

      1. derrida derider

        Err, topographic and geologic suitability (hence drainage and earthwork requirements) was certainly a factor in the choice of BC’s location. If you’d been there you’d see that straight away.

        You’d have had more chance of claiming site unsuitability if they’d chosen Wilton or (especially) Richmond, let alone if they wanted to somehow enlarge KSA.

        1. ghostwhowalksnz

          cough cough …isnt the name a clue, Badgerys CREEK. There dont seem to be sharp contours, but when you are talking runways which could be eventually 10,000m thats a lot a ground to have minimal slope. There seems to be a ridge line at 100m which has cross fall to Badgerys Cr along the eastern boundary, as shown on Liverpool Council Maps

  8. Michael James

    A few comments on the prospective demand for traffic in and out of Badgery’s Creek.

    If we take Western Sydney to be the area covered by the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils, then we are looking at an area of some over a million hectares of land area housing almost 2 million people. Thats close to the total population of Perth or Brisbane. (Source WESROC)

    The Western Sydney region is home to Australia’s third largest economy, ninety five billion dollars worth of GDP, third only to Sydney and Melbourne’s Central Business Districts (Source NSW Govt) and in excess of every other State and Territory Capital

    Sydney’s population is expanding from 5 million to 8 million people by 2056, the majority of whom will be accommodated in Sydney’s West (Source Greater Sydney Commission)

    The Greater Sydney Commission has stated that within 20 years more than 50% of Sydney’s population will live west of Parramatta.

    Now explain to me why exactly an international airport in Sydney’s west won’t be a massive success?

    1. ghostwhowalksnz

      What implausible numbers . Currently Greater Sydney- including region has 5 mill people, not ‘western sydney’
      Greater Sydney ?
      “area extends from Wyong and Gosford in the north to the Royal National Park in the south and follows the coastline in between. Towards the west, the region includes the Blue Mountains, Wollondilly and Hawkesbury.”

      Western Sydney is more like 1.6 mill, a sort of poorer Adelaide. The wealth and business is concentrated in the east. These are the people who travel most often on business and leisure. For Tourists the ‘real Sydney’ is concentrated in the east along with the hotels and attractions that serve them.
      Its like saying Long Island NY with its 3 mill people ( outside of NYC boundaries) is dire need of its own international airport- it has its own regional airport

      1. Dan Dair

        “For Tourists the ‘real Sydney’ is concentrated in the east along with the hotels and attractions that serve them”

        So no-one who visits Sydney as a tourist comes to view or to trek in, the Blue Mountains, go to the racing a Rosehill or Bungarribee/Eastern Creek or visit Campbelltown.?
        Sydney’s not just the Opera House & the Harbour Bridge, impressive though they are.!

        1. ghostwhowalksnz

          For tourists , outback means Eyres Rock and the NT. It doesnt mean Campbelltown. Surely you can see that, Im sure they are lovely, but so what. Racing at Rosehill? . The premier course and races are at Randwick which is closer to which airport?

          1. Mick Gilbert

            You might want to check your facts on Randwick versus Rosehill.
            As someone who has lost money at both venues I can tell you they’re both Australian Turf Club tracks and the ATC tries to share the big races around; Rosehill gets 34 major races (Groups 1-3) a year to Randwick’s 44 (Randwick hosts 9 more Group 1 races than Rosehill).
            And while Edward Eyre was known to have traipsed around parts of South Australia and Western Australia he was long gone and living out his retirement back in England when William Gosse spotted a big hunk of reddish sandstone sticking out of the ground in central Australia and named it after Sir Henry Ayres.

  9. Ben Sandilands


    You seem to have a lot of problem with statistics, but causing 600,000 people to disappear from the official figures on western Sydney, and inferring that in some way they are lesser inhabitants, seems to be flirting with a clinical disorder. (There was a wrong word re total population in the previous comment, which has been fixed. The total estimated population of greater Sydney at the moment exceeds 4.7 million.) You also seem to be unaware that Sydney’s problem with tourism growth isn’t so much what they wish to see or experience, but being able to arrive. The logical point of your passionate objections to a second Sydney airport seems to be that the current airport can handle the future considerably better than it manages the present. Many of those cheering on the second airport are doing so because the current one is irretrievably broken.

    1. ghostwhowalksnz

      “As at June 2016 Sydney’s estimated population was 5,005,358″
      I remember that the 5 mill number was a bit of landmark
      ” Western Suburbs ….estimated resident population as at 30 June 2008 of 1,665,673″
      Both from Wikipedia with references
      Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils WSROC gives its own number for 2016 of 1.92 mill
      the ABS estimated 2016 number is 1.607 mill
      No one its seems can agree on ‘Western Sydney exactly’, Inner Western, Outer Western, Central western, and even Southern Western. You probably include ‘North Western’ who dont really have much connection to the South Western where Badgerys is

  10. Ben Sandilands

    The 2.2 million figure was a calculation based on the distance of addresses from each airport, with that figure being those addresses closer to the site of Badgerys Creek. I can’t vouch for the methodology and accuracy of the claim. But as someone who uses the rail and road networks across Sydney with reasonable frequency, I don’t think there is any common sense case for there not being inbuilt demand for a more convenient airport for many domestic users, as well as permitting expansion of international access to Sydney.

  11. Ben Sandilands

    Deano DD,
    Your last comment, which insults many people who would by definition, be Australian citizens, has been deleted. The marital status and ethnic groupings of Australians are of no interest to a forum on air transport.

  12. Ben Sandilands

    There haven’t been barrier counts for Sydney rail stations for about two years. If you are going to make absurd claims about statistics perhaps read all the notes and quote the date. The series was ‘retired’ because it couldn’t accurately measure the numbers by being unable to differentiate between access passes, like season tickets, all day passes and most recently the different ways data is generated by the Opalcard system.

    1. ghostwhowalksnz

      Its not supposed to ‘exactly accurate’ but gives a good indication of rankings. Isnt a raw count of those going through the turnstiles enough?
      Of course they dont do manual counts anymore, as the electronic swipe cards replace that with the advantage of seeing for each station where passengers get off as well.
      They are fairly recent and are whats available. You have had a career in quality journalism, you know you dont have perfect information all the time, but it doesnt mean the basic story isnt correct.
      I stand by my rankings of the traffic flows, the airport stations are small cheese. The numbers also suggest the further out you go from the CBD the lower is the usage of trains for travel.
      As an aside , I have made comments in a transport blog for Auckland about usage for ‘possible’ airport rail link as a spur line. I looked at Brisbane which had peak services every 15min and other times 30 min as what Auckland could be thinking ( even though the airport has 65% of the passengers). This was as a guide, but oh no, I was told flatly that ‘Brisbane should be more’. Auckland has vast spaces for carparks as well
      I see so much delusion around airports and trains and Im a fan of public transport to airports myself!

  13. patrick kilby

    Dear oh dear,
    BC will at least need Canberra capacity for business flights that is 10 gates with a couple of swing gates for international. AJ wants to move Jetstar there for their slots at KSA so all in all at least 10 movements an hour from day one. The amount of earth to be moved is on the website so if Wagners get a level peice of land with drains etc all in then building the runway is easily done. A terminal the size of Canberra’s was a slow process because it was several $100m as I recall.

  14. Ben Sandilands

    My real life experience of Auckland airport is as infrequent as yours appears to be in relation to Sydney Airport. I go there about four times a year, two return trips, and that’s it. But there is a common sense real life test that needs to be applied to Sydney Airport, and it is abundantly obvious to its victims. The hundreds of people that block my speedy Opalcard holding progress through the barrier aren’t ring-ins. They are real travellers, too many of them ill-prepared for the way the electronic pass system works. I don’t think you have any grasp as to what Sydney has become, and I’m not necessarily saying it has become better for it either. It is crowded, ill served by infrastructure in general, but a magnet for job seekers as well as business or leisure visitors. The airport is a single point failure of considerable magnitude, and like the rail and road systems, investment in more capacity is needed, and especially needed by the least well served part of the greater Sydney area. Whether you or I like it, that western airport is going to be built, and it will not only be used by large numbers of people, but change the decisions some enterprises make as to where they might base themselves. Sydney has made some dreadful planning errors in the past, and the most damaging probably concern the destruction of its port potential and the failure, only being addressed now in a piecemeal manner in terms of surface freight handing and distribution, is in my view something that did far more damage to its future than issues with its airport.

  15. Mark Skinner

    Mick Gilbert, you can build and commission a huge complex building in 6-7 years, maximum. The runways etc can be built in much shorter timeframes than that, as have been shown by the Wagners. The ATC, fuelling facilities, fire-fighting, ILS etc can be done in parallel with the other work (indeed, installation of conduits, fuel pipelines, ATC buildings MUST be done in parallel with other work or much work has to be dug up).

    So, unless the ATC, fuelling facilities, fire fighting etc etc take longer than 6-7 years, the reasonable question is why does it need to take 9-10 years as proposed by government?

    That also presupposes a massive terminal building from the start. If the initial building were the size of Adelaide Airport, then that might only be 3-4 years to construct a building suitable for 20 plus gates with aerobridges etc.

    So, based on Wagners, and Adelaide Airport, why would we need more than four years to build? Everything can be done in parallel, so does all the ancillary stuff take more than four years?

    1. Mick Gilbert

      Mark, they are all very fair points. Three factors that also need to be considered are ramp-up, design and geology. With regards to the former, there’s often an unrealistic expectation that major projects hit full speed a very short time after they’re announced. Badgerys Creek is being funded and driven by the Federal Government so the two things that need to happen first are an appropriation bill for funding and probably a bill to create the Badgerys Creek Airport Authority or something similar; they need to be passed by Parliament, insert estimated time frame for that . Then the Authority needs to be made operational – insert time frame for organisational design, recruitment and administrivia like sourcing office space . Only when this stuff has been done can you start looking at the next bits of the ramp up such as appointment of the first phalanx of surveyors, geotechnical engineers, etc.
      Next, where are we at with the design work? All I’ve seen are some conceptual drawings. The process of appointing an architectural firm (or firms, it would not be imprudent to split the design work) and then going from concept to detailed design to construction drawings would take 18-21 months. You can get some overlap by appointing your construction businesses at around the detailed design phase but you can’t start doing much on the ground apart from some basic site prep and access and support work until the construction drawings are done.
      With regards to the last point (sequentially it should be tbe second point), the soil geology will dictate a good many things, not the least of which is how fast you can build the runway. Compaction and settling are critical precursors to construction. Now I know that Brisbane, being a reclamation, is a different kettle of fish to Badgerys Creek but the compaction and settling period for the second runway there is four years. Wellcamp was sited adjacent to a quarry on a plateau so you’d expect that they had the benefits of a relatively thin regolith and no real water-table issues; the Badgerys Creek site straddles the eponymous creek, is on an alluvial plain and is less than 10 kilometres from the Nepan River so expect a different timetable for compaction to Wellcamp .
      Currently you’ve got people comparing the construction period for projects like Wellcamp to the entire programme period for Badgerys Creek and it’s a false comparison; construction is just one element of the overall programme.

      1. Mick Gilbert

        Mmm … a bit of a formatting issue, when I wrote “insert estimated time frame for that . Then the Authority needs to be made operational – insert time frame for organisational design, recruitment and administrivia like sourcing office space .” after “for that” and “office space” I had typed “here” inside “<" style brackets. HTML must read them as something else.

    2. Dan Dair

      Mark Skinner, (& Mick Gilbert),
      This is a far more detailed explanation of what I was driving at when I was talking about the ‘Wellcamp model’.!

      In my head, you build the minimum you need to, in order to get the airport operational. (At the point it becomes operational it starts to generate income)***
      “Everything can be done in parallel”, so the ancillary stuff goes in as part of the main build or it is facilitated as part of the main build, but not necessarily installed.?
      Power conduits, cable conduits, fuel & water pipelines either installed or the underground corridors build to house them, for later full installation.?
      Build the Fire Station, even if you don’t initially staff it.
      Build the huge railway station space, even if it’s nothing but car-parking until the trains actually reach the airport.?
      Why even have airbridges for most of the first terminal. Sure it’s nice to be out of the wind & rain, but the weather’s not nasty most of the time. So the ‘domestic’ gates could have no airbridges initially to save time & money, but I’d design the building to make retro-fitting simple in the future.?

      As I said in an earlier posting;
      “All the ancillaries can be constructed & installed at the same time as the other work is proceeding”
      “The control-tower, navigation aids, ILS, fire-station, catering and so on… can all be built as part of the initial construction, or at least planned for & facilitated at that time.
      Perhaps you have them (the constructed ‘shells’ of these facilities) all in place on day one, then you have a schedule to initiate each of these things at certain trigger-points, be that by time-periods or by aircraft movement numbers.?”
      “IMO Badgerys’s Creek airport NEEDS to be little more than Wellcamp on it’s opening day……?”
      “What it will…..need, is a very good plan for how the airport will develop over both the short & the long-term, to make sure that decisions made before a turf was cut, don’t bugger-up any of those future growth plans.?”

      *** It isn’t beyond my conception to build a short, Wellcamp style runway, to get the airport operational, in just 3 years, whilst at the same time separately building the full-sized main runway, which as Mick says (& he’s usually right.!), might alone need to be rolled & compacted for 3 years.? It would be a trade-off between the extra expense of doing that against the earliest possible commencement of flight operations.?)

      1. Mick Gilbert

        Dan, let me try to reframe the “Why don’t they build it faster?” debate to one of “Why would you want to build it faster?” What’s the rush?
        In the real world, money-making assets live or die off the back of utilisation. What drives the utilisation of an airport is demand – number of airplane movements and passenger and freight volumes. And the requisite demand to justify a second airport doesn’t occur until Sydney airport hits its capacity constraints around 2025-26.
        It is that very simple supply-demand equation that has bedevilled a second Sydney airport for as long as I can remember – while Sydney had capacity the enormous investment required for a second airport made no commercial sense. Only now do the planets of Sydney hitting its capacity constraint and the time to design and build a second airport come into alignment. It makes no sense to rush the delivery of a loss-making half-arsed offering that will need to compete with Sydney for business when you can wait and deliver a properly scaled, commercially viable facility that will have a guaranteed initial customer base (as a minimum, the Sydney overflow traffic). No one should be in a rush to lose money.
        Going back to the construction issues, I don’t believe that the compaction and settling period for Badgerys Creek will be four years but it will most assuredly be longer than whag was required at Wellcamp.

        1. Dan Dair

          Mick Gilbert,
          I suppose, really we’re both looking at the same things form our own pre-formed perspectives.?

          I’m imagining a Western Sydney that will want to get immediate access to alternative Melbourne flights & into other domestic cities, meanwhile the ‘booneys’ will suddenly have potential new slots available into Badgery’s that simply aren’t available at KSA.?

          Additionally, it has been raised on these pages that, as a start, both Emirates & Singapore might well be interested in transferring one flight each into the new airport, because avoiding KSA’s curfew would fit in better with their domestic scheduling.?

          In that context, I am imagining that the airport will generate a certain amount of business almost immediately.
          However, I understand the point you make about KSA not yet ‘maxing-out’ & whether that would affect the ability of the new airport to grow before that time actually arrives.?

          From my perspective,
          I’d be looking to generate a return on capital asap, as well as starting to build route-networks and create business-confidence in the airport too.?
          Hence my point of build small, build fast, & for at least the first 5 years or so, be constantly adding & extending.
          It’s also why I made such a big deal about planning a long way ahead, to ensure you’re not digging-up or knocking-down the stuff you’ve already constructed, to make way for the new bits.!!!

          1. Mick Gilbert

            Dan, in business there is a difference between receiving money and making money. In order to generate a return on capital for starters you have to match the current investment rate just to break even.
            I’ll try to illustrate this with a simplified example; let’s say we’re going to build a $100 million airport that takes only 12 months to build. Each month I hand $8.33 million over to the builders and my airport is coming along swimmingly; the commercial alternative that forms the baseline for calculating a commercial return is that instead I stick my $8.33 million a month into a risk-free cash account that generates 3% interest. With the airport, at the end of 12 months I’ve spent 100 million of my hard-earneds AND I’ve foregone nearly $1.64 million in interest I could have recieved if I’d invested my money in $8.33 million monthly instalments over 12 months.
            So, right from opening day the airport owes me $101.64 million. Just to cover the interest that I could be earning on the $101.64 million the airport has to generate $255,000 a month. Now, while I’m a generous sole I would like to get my $100 million back in full at some point. Let’s say I’m prepared to give it 10 years to pay me back; the airport has to generate just shy of $1 million a month to achieve that. Now, with nearly $1 million a month coming in that airport has not made me one red cent – $1 million per month is my 10 year break-even number on a $100 million invested over one year.
            On the basis that no one goes into business to break even, I want a commercial return on my money above and beyond the cash rate; businesses refer to this as their hurdle rate and “generally” it is somewhere between 6-12%. In order to achieve a relatively low 6% commercial return on investment my airport needs to generate an extra $330,000 a month on top of the break even number. You will note that the difference between breaking even and making me my desired return is about 33%.
            Now, let’s use passenger volumes or number of flights per month as a surrogate for dollars. What the sums tell me is that if I open my airport before the volumes/movements required to give me a commercial return are less than roughly 65% of my target numbers I will be losing money. In other words, “a certain amount of business” such as a flight a night from both Emirates and Singapore and a few other flights here and there as volumes build is going to bleed me white. As I’ve said previously, nobody should ever be in a rush to lose money.
            A couple of years ago Air Services Australia commissioned IATA to do a study on trends on domestic and international volumes within and to and from Australia (the aptly named “Activity Forecasts for the Period 2014-2015 to 2020-2021” study). Long story short, surprise, surprise, domestic and international volumes grow roughly in line with local and global GDP respectively. IATA forecasts on average annual air traffic growth within and to Australia of around 2.1-ish% out to 2021. A not unreasonable assumption is to expect that growth to stay there or thereabouts out to 2027. What that relatively slow growth rate means is that your margin for error for your break even volume is quite fine; if you are out by just 5% on the downside you’re going to be copping it in the chops with business losses for nearly three years. Accordingly, you will want to err on the upside and open later rather than earlier.
            And while I’m sure that the good people of Western Sydney would like the airport to be built sooner, it really is no different to the provision of any infrastructure anywhere, it will get built when it makes commercial sense to do so.

          2. Mick Gilbert

            Mmm … a generous sole?! While they quite possibly exist I should have written “generous soul”.

          3. Dan Dair

            Mick Gilbert,
            I though you meant there was only you who felt that way.????

  16. ggm

    TBF, some construction costs are a function of traffic density as much as surface area. Wellcamp is built to take *an occasional* super-heavy. It doesn’t have 60 landings per hour of 380 grade.
    If you want to consider BNE, the settling time of the landfill alone is multi-year: you do not get stable ground to build a runway on, without time passing.

  17. Ben Sandilands

    Michael R James,
    What has the early failure of Mirabel to do with Badgerys Creek, which is much closer to 2.2 million people than Sydney Airport and is proximate to economic activity on a scale that didn’t exist when bureaucrats conjured up a one great big dazzling new airport solution to completely replace Dorval? I seem to remember similar claims being argued that Sydney should close its airport and move everything to Badgerys Creek. Which would have been almost as insane as having one huge central Australian airport near Uluru, serviced by fast trains covering distances more akin to parts of Siberia back in the 60s, when it was a much emptier place than it is today.

    1. michael r james

      I agree with your point (2.2 million people) but that was not my point, which was entirely about freight.
      I am one of those who promote the insane idea of having one huge central Sydney airport–by default, at Badgerys. You know, the way HK did exactly that with Chep Lap Kok (HKI), or Berlin is doing with closing two of its three airports (and actually building high-speed rail to it) etc. The big mistake of Montreal re Mirabel was not closing its old airport. The same thing in Sydney is why SAC found it totally uneconomic and why WSA will struggle for decades to be anything more than a smallish LCC operation, and most Westies will still make the trek to KSA for most flights (esp. international, unless Emirates swoops in and takes it all). Exactly as tens of millions of Londoners/SouthEastEnglanders trek to Heathrow–as I did on my last visit, when I was on the coach from Brighton when it stopped briefly at Gatwick before arriving at Heathrow. And why London is IMO a model of exactly how not to arrange aviation for a giant city (and it is about to spend A$30 billion on merely a third runway so as to disturb ever more London suburbanites).

      1. Ben Sandilands

        Michael R James,
        It has taken a long time for governments to realise that without efficient air access large cities will lose their usefulness to people and enterprises. Doing nothing at Sydney isn’t a rational option, but the second airport deniers seem by default to embrace even more chaos and dysfunctionality than befalls the greater metropolitan area today.
        Regardless of what happened in Montreal, greater London, and Paris, Sydney is making serious moves to having two airports with proximity to millions of potential customers each, and being able to satisfy demand for tourism access. I think these airports will compete fiercely for international trade, and try to win domestic market share where their catchments can be considered to overlap. Our younger children will wonder what all the shouting was all about, and why doing the obvious took so long.

  18. Ben Sandilands

    Taking into account the analysis done by Mick Gilbert, and the points made by Dan and others, we seem to have stumbled upon a rationale for government to build and operate the airport for some time before finding a buyer at the right price. I don’t think it is politically acceptable anywhere in the spectrum apart from the absolutely looney tunes left for the situation at Sydney Airport being tolerated until such time as the owners decide they can resume screwing the users of both as hard as they have at the current one.
    The situation at Sydney is sub-par now, and it will be diabolical by 2026 at foreseeable levels of demand. If private enterprise can’t do it, it is in the interests of the rest of the Sydney business ‘world’ for the state to do it. For a while.

  19. patrick kilby

    By the way the constrution plan is not hugely different to Brinsbane 3 years site preparation and 3 years runway construction. BC approvals won’t be in place until late 2018 so the site won’t be ready (i.e flat and settled) until early 2022 and then three to four year to construct takes us to early 2026. The earthmoving task at BC is greater (flattening losw hills) but the earth settling and stabilising task is shorter. There is additional terminal work but that can take place at the same time as the runway is being built.

  20. comet

    Scientists yesterday released new climate modelling, predicting sea level rises of around 2.7 metres by the year 2100.

    This puts Sydney Airport at risk. The waves will be lapping close to the runway.

    Brisbane’s Eagle Farm airport will be totally underwater according to their calculations. I’m surprised it didn’t make bigger news, but events elsewhere in the world are overshadowing it on the news lineups.

    We’re left with the possibility that Sydney West Airport and Wellcamp Airport may one day be our only airports in those cities.

    I imagine there are hundreds of other airports around the world that will be inundated. Aviation is in a spot of bother.

  21. Ben Sandilands

    Sydney Airport is at ‘manageable’ risk at six metres about mean sea level, taking into account storm surges or severe local flooding. Manageable in the sense that tide barriers like those seen on a much larger scale on the Thames in London could be built across the mouth of Botany Bay and the Cooks River canal can be even more easily managed, together with the Wolli Creek, which could easily flood the airport rail line all the way to Green Square. However its not the airports that would prove the weak point. Once the docks and harbourside precincts go under the rail and road tunnels become drowned and the knock on effect of infrastructure loss would destroy the functionality of the current CBD and much of the land upstream along the Parramatta River and so forth.
    The unwillingness of the community and authorities to confront the consequences of sea level rises will bite hard by the end of this century.

    1. Dan Dair

      How about a bloody big pair of lock gates at The Heads.???
      It won’t do a damn thing for the airport, but the CBD might be safer.?

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