THE AUSTRALIAN government said on Tuesday it will step in to build an AUD5 billion (US$3.76 billion) second international airport for Sydney after the operator of the existing hub declined to take on the project.
The decision follows years of unfulfilled plans and promises from successive governments while capacity at the city’s only international airport became increasingly stretched.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said it was a vitally important project for the country and is expected to inject more than AUD1.9 billion into the economy during the construction phase alone. It is expected to open in late 2026.
The announcement of one of Australia’s largest public works projects came after Sydney Airport Holdings Ltd declined to take up its rights to develop the airport, a decision that means it could lose its monopoly status within a decade.
Sydney Airport chief executive Kerrie Mather said in a statement earlier on Tuesday that it was in the best interest of investors for her company to decline the option based on the proposed terms, which did not include any government aid.
The government hopes the new airport will boost inbound air passenger numbers to Sydney by about a quarter, or 10 million people per year, within five to 10 years of opening.
Turnbull said more details on the project would be provided in next week’s federal budget. – Reuters