SYDNEY Dec 12 The Australian government
approved a second international airport for Sydney on Monday,
opening the way for construction to begin in Australia's largest
city on a project mired in political squabbling for 70 years.
Sydney Airport Holdings Ltd has first right of
refusal to build the A$5 billion ($3.7 billion) airport, which
the government hopes will boost inbound air passenger numbers to
Sydney by about a quarter, or 10 million people per year.
The new airport is the centrepiece of Prime Minister Malcolm
Turnbull's A$30 billion national public works drive designed to
keep Australia's economy ticking over as a decade-long resources
spending boom unwinds.
Its location, at Badgery's Creek in Sydney's western
outskirts, was first mooted in 1946 as the limits of the first
airport - hemmed in by suburbs and the sea in the city's east -
The project has been bogged down in partisan debate over
aircraft noise, funding and alternative sites ever since.
"The need for an airport in western Sydney has been
screamingly obvious for many years," Turnbull told reporters in
"We are getting on with the job, and this airport will be
built ... it will become a catalyst for investment and industry
in western Sydney. That is where Sydney's growth is," he said.
The airport's proposed 3,700-metre (2.3 miles) runway will
be able to accommodate large Airbus A380 aeroplanes, said
Australian Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher.
A spokeswoman for Sydney Airport, Joeley Pettit, had no
comment on whether the company would opt to build the new
project or contribute an anticipated A$1 billion towards its
The company must exercise its option within four months of
receiving formal notice from the government, which Fletcher said
would happen before Dec. 31.
The project is set for completion in the mid-2020s, with
Sydney's existing airport approaching maximum capacity, the
government said in a statement.
($1 = 1.3405 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Tom Westbrook; Editing by Paul Tait)