The Federal Government has revealed it wants the Badgerys Creek airport to operate 24 hours a day.
“To maximise the potential of the site and its commercial viability, the proposed airport would operate on a 24-hour basis” the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development said in document released last week.
Liverpool Leader reported that, the idea the airport would not be financially viable if it had a curfew was queried by former Qantas chief economist Tony Webber.
“The biggest cost on the books of Kingsford Smith Airport is actually the opportunity cost associated with the high value of the land,” he said.
“Because the land at Badgerys Creek is worth a lot less, this cost is drastically reduced and therefore it’s hard to argue the airport would not be financially viable without a curfew”
He said there was an oversupply of seats in both the domestic and international air travel market, which meant the only companies likely to want to fly into the Badgerys Creek airport at night would be cut-price-air-lines from Asia.
In terms of freight, Mr Webber pointed out that getting Australians to work throughout the night would mean paying high wages and penalty rates.
He said it would make more sense for a company to use cheap labour offshore during those hours when people in Sydney were unlikely to want to work.
Liverpool Mayor Ned Mannoun said the council’s support was conditional on a comprehensive environmental impact statement that engaged the council and the community.
Cr Mannoun said the council would have an informed discussion once airport experts gave advice on all possible impacts and mitigation measures.
Last week, the Government published the guidelines that will shape the environmental statement.
The guidelines will establishes the benchmarks that must be met by the airport’s proponent, the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development.
The department said the development of the airport would be staged in response to demand. Stage one-consisting of one runway-is expected to be operational in the mid-2020s.
The final design of the airport may have two parallel runways 4km long on a northeast and southwest alignment.
There would also be support facilities capable of handling up to 70 million passenger movements a year.
Infrastructure Minister Warren Truss said public consultation on the draft EIS was expected to begin in the middle of this year.
Mr Truss said the Government was committed to ensuring that a new, robust and rigorous environmental assessment was completed, and that the community was consulted and informed.