Sydney Airport to spend big money

Sydney Airport has planned some $1.5 billion of growth capital expenditure over the next 10 years. This is in addition to the $850 million capital expenditure that has already been made since the Airport was privatised in July 2002.

Russell Balding, Sydney Airport’s CEO has outlined the airport’s recent and planned expenditure.

"Some of the benefits of our investment program are already evident. For example, the $120 million which was spent on upgrades so that the airport was ready for the A380. [Sydney Airport is] still one of the very few airports in the world that can accommodate the A380 and because we are located in one of the best cities in the world Singapore Airlines chose Sydney for the world’s first passenger flight of the new A380 when it flew between Singapore and Sydney in October last year. This was a milestone in global aviation history and we invested $120 million to secure that service."

The airport has also commenced a $500 million expansion and upgrade of the International Terminal. This will be the first significant upgrade since the 2000 Olympics and will comprise three major components:

• The terminal will be expanded by more than 7,000 square metres providing centralised security screening and passenger processing for Australian Government agencies along with world class passenger facilities on the departures level;

• There will be a new outbound baggage handling system; and

• Expansion of the arrivals baggage system to handle more passengers.

$80 million to build an extension to the runway safety area at the western end of the east-west runway to comply with a new CASA safety regulatory requirement is also on the drawing board. This is a very complex engineering project as it involves effectively bridging over the existing heritage-listed sewer outfall pipeline as well as over  the M5 East tunnel.

The construction of this project will have operational impacts on the east-west runway and the runway will have to be closed during part of the construction period, causing major disquiet amongst local residents.

"The other major initiative that we will be undertaking through the course of 2008 is updating the existing 20 year Sydney Airport Master Plan," Mr Balding said.

The current Master Plan was prepared and approved by the Australian Government in 2003. A formal review and update of the Master Plan is legislatively required.

The Master Plan, looking forward twenty years to 2029, will consider issues like air traffic and passenger forecasts, airfield and terminal development, and air services considerations such as navigational aids and other emerging technologies.

"It will consider how we can sustainably manage aviation growth by employing new technologies that minimise aircraft noise and other environmental impacts. It will establish the strategic direction for the efficient and economic development of the airport. It will also seek to reduce potential conflicts between uses of the airport site, and to ensure that uses are compatible with the areas surrounding the airport," he said.

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