News24

Qantas calls for 2nd Sydney airport

2012-04-23 12:01

Sydney - Qantas chief Alan Joyce on Monday said bottlenecks at Sydney airport were unsustainable and called for a second hub in the city before its global reputation was damaged.

Sydney's Kingsford Smith Airport is the main gateway into Australia and Joyce said its capacity limits needed to be fixed.

"We cannot afford to wait much longer to make a decision about a second airport for Sydney," he said in an opinion piece for the Sydney Daily Telegraph.

"Aviation is too important, not just to Sydney and New South Wales, but to Australia. This is a national issue that will not go away. It needs to be fixed."

Sydney is Qantas's headquarters and Joyce said it was already facing serious problems, with a Boeing 747 often taking up to two hours to be towed from one end of the airport to the other.

He said planes were routinely stuck for 30 minutes circling Sydney due to congestion, while others were unable to take off on time.

"With a quarter of Qantas's departures leaving from Sydney, there is no escaping the consequences of bottlenecks at our main airport hub," he said.

The federal government is in favour of a second airport in the city with Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese recently saying limitations were already hurting the economy.

He said that by 2035 the cost to national GDP of turning away flights would be Aus$6bn, and nearly six times more by 2060.

Tourists and business

But New South Wales state Premier Barry O'Farrell is against the idea, insisting Sydney is too urbanised for another hub.

He prefers expanding the airport at national capital Canberra and introducing high-speed trains linking it with Sydney, about 280km away.

Joyce said this was unrealistic.

"I come from Ireland, where Ryanair takes pleasure in finding secondary airports miles away from airports in the city... but I don't even think Ryanair would go 280km away," he said.

He wants a second airport at Badgerys Creek in western Sydney.

"If our largest city cannot handle the number of passengers we are expected to receive by 2030, Sydney, and the rest of Australia, would miss out on tourists and business," he said.

"Sydneysiders would suffer, our neighbours in other states would suffer and our reputation as a world city would suffer."