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airports

Apr 15, 2017

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Badgerys Creek airport site may yet escape from monopoly ownership risk

What better timing could there be than an Easter Holiday weekend story or two putting the owners of Sydney Airport in a headlock over the fate of their right to gouge travellers and airlines for another 88 years or so as the monopoly lease holders of existing and future airport facilities in the entire Sydney metropolitan basin?

The Australian obliges today with a ripper of a story (subscription required) in which the Federal Government calls the bluff of Sydney Airport Group over its insistence that it might not take up its first dibs on building and operating the second Sydney Airport at the Badgerys Creek site.

The Sydney Morning Herald takes a different, but no less painful approach in a story about claims that the WestConnex road project might not only cost three times as much as officially claimed, but still doesn’t have a plan to connect drivers to the existing airport.

As Plane Talking has pointed out over the years since Sydney Airport was sold for $5.6 billion in 2002 to a consortium that was then free to totally screw users of the asset for anything short of prices that would collapse demand for airline services to Australia’s largest city, this was the worst privatization of a publicly owned asset in the country’s history.

But the dream that somehow a way might be found to prevent Sydney Airport from exercising its right to extend the screwing to any additional new airport in the metropolitan basin may be about to come true.

Sydney Airport, the company, has baulked at the idea of spending maybe $3 billion to set up the first stage of the Sydney West airport and a May 8 deadline for it to pay up or p*ss off, is bearing down on it. And as The Australian reports, the Feds have locked in place their Plan B for financing Sydney West, pending no doubt, a future sale to different private owners, or maybe even a Sydney Airport that has undergone some attitude readjustment therapy.

Whatever else might happen, it seems that the Turnbull Government (and most likely any government that might follow) is determined that the Sydney basin will have a second jet airliner airport by 2026. In economic terms, this would be like giving a patient who will otherwise die of congestive heart failure a new lease on life.

Will Sydney Airport blink? Let us hope not. The countdown is running out of days. The ruinous decision taken by the Howard/Costello government might just be torn down.

rail

Mar 11, 2016

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PM Turnball arriving by train for this morning's assault on policy neanderthalism
PM Turnbull arriving by train for this morning’s assault on policy neanderthalism

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s announcing that the Sydney West airport at Badgerys Creek will be rail ready on its opening is a signal that public transport is one of his policy commitments that hasn’t been hand braked by the coalition’s conservative power brokers. Continue reading “PM advances Badgerys Creek Airport rail link to opening day”

airports

Aug 13, 2013

5 comments

Contains 56 pages of detailed analysis, and lost opportunities

The very detailed NSW Business Chamber report in support of the economic case for a range of scenarios for developing the Commonwealth owned Badgerys Creek site overlooks several issues that just about every industry in Australia finds obnoxious.

These are the times taken to gain approval for major projects, followed by what may be the developed world’s poorest performance in terms of building them.

However this is not a criticism of the report, which wasn’t commissioned to examine such matters. It’s an observation that leaps off many of its pages.

The single runway first stage of a Sydney West Airport could be readily built within three years.  The rest of the world would build it in three years, and produce a facility every bit as good as it could be in the seven years construction time modelled into the Deloitte Access Economics report.

There is nothing undulating or unduly complicated about the relatively small site the Commonwealth owns for a future airport at Badgerys Creek.

Similarly, the approvals process could be slashed to three years without community risk. The site of the 24 hour no curfew airport and its runway orientations from the west south west to the east north east has been defined for 27 years.

Australia take too long to do anything.

The deputy PM and Minister for airports and much more, Anthony Albanese also implicity recognises this in his committment that a Rudd government, if elected, would start work on ‘a’ second Sydney Airport within a three year term.

The prevarication as to which site, at Badgerys Creek or Wilton, is uninspiring.  The Minister knows all too well that the possibility of locating the second Sydney Airport at Wilton is an absurdity. His most recently completed study on the feasibility of Wilton said as much, even though the Minister, loyal to whomever Labor is trying to protect from a Badgerys Creek airport, still intends to chuck more millions on further technical investigations at Wilton, if reelected and reappointed.

Work on Badgerys Creek could have started in the term of the current federal government.

In the Deloite Access Economics report it is modelled that Badgery’s Creek would under different scenarios start as a domestic airport and not move to international services until a further six years or so after opening.

Something is wrong here. Qatar Airways is prepared to launch daily services to Sydney now, but for the curfew at the eastern located airport, which would prevent it from efficiently utilising the airliners invested in a Sydney service.

Emirates would also almost certainly shift one of its A380s or 777s to a Sydney West airport from day one, make that night one, in order to better use its assets, and remove the risk that late night arrivals like those it now makes at Sydney would not run into curfew problems when running late.

The policy outlook under any future Australian government is also favourable to additional traffic rights being made available to carriers that wish to bring services, new services, to new international airports, such as Avalon or Sydney West.  Especially if Qantas has further pursued its policy of downsizing its own international long haul flights, or ceded more of them to partnerships like the one with Emirates.

In short Sydney West would not be short of interest from international carriers, and quite possibly, they would not be taking business away from a congested Sydney East airport, but bringing to Sydney activity it was otherwise going to lose if it continued to rely on a single international airport.

But again it should be emphasised that the Deloites report wasn’t dealing with the current poor state of project execution and approvals processes that drive up the cost of major infrastructure projects in this country, and to the detriment of the productivity in Australia.

When Badgerys Creek is built it will be more successful than canvassed in the scenarios in this NSW Business Chamber economic impact study.

The full report can be downloaded here.