Paul Fletcher MP

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The Australian - Prices, services the big winners: rivals

Paul in the Media Thursday, 04 May 2017

Airline giants have swung behind Sydney’s proposed $6 billion second airport as driving “healthy" competition for airport charges but have insisted the new site must be able to operate 24 hours a day.

Carriers said the government’s move to build the project would deliver certainty around the development of the project. Industry sources also said that creating a rival for Sydney airport — having an independent operator at western Sydney airport — could lead to competitive prices and services.

“We are pleased that there is now certainty around the development of western Sydney airport,” a Virgin Australia spokeswoman said. “We look forward to a competitive process going forward, which we’re confident will result in great infrastructure for Sydney and the Australian economy.”

It is likely Virgin Australia and its low-cost subsidiary, Tigerair Australia, will operate some services from Badgerys Creek. The Qantas Group said yesterday’s announcement delivered clarity on an important piece of infrastructure. The project had the “potential to introduce some healthy competition for airport services and charges in the Sydney basin”, a spokesman for the national carrier said.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce raised the prospect of Jetstar eventually using Badgerys Creek as its main operational headquarters, freeing spots at Sydney’s Kingsford Smith Airport for Qantas flights. Addressing the Macquarie Conference in Sydney, Mr Joyce said the Badgerys Creek development should be based on London, where Heathrow is “clearly a premium airport” while Stansted focused on discount travellers.

Mr Joyce said it was vital the proposed western Sydney airport did not have a curfew, which would allow a greater number of overnight and early flights in and out of the area. The executive director of the Bureau of Airline Representatives of Australia, Barry Abrams, said Kingsford Smith would remain a major gateway, but as travel become more affordable, several airlines could see opportunities at Badgerys Creek.

He said international airfares had fallen in the past decade and, if that trend continued, “it may well open up more opportunities and new markets for international airlines out at western Sydney airport because you will have a larger base of demand”. However, Mr Abrams noted that for the airport to become commercially viable as quickly as possible, “a whole bunch of infrastructure services” would be needed. “That includes the airport, the jet fuel supply, the air navigation system and services, and how well we handle the airspace issues,” Mr Abrams said.

The CAPA-Centre for Aviation said having a separate owner for Sydney’s second airport was a good thing. However, the centre’s executive chairman, Peter Harbison, said the new airport could prove disruptive for the incumbent airlines by attracting low-cost carriers. “It’s a real disturbance of the status quo,” he said.

Authorised by Paul Fletcher MP, Level 2, 280 Pacific Highway Lindfield NSW 2070.

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