Western Sydney ‘aerotropolis’ could boost economy and create jobs

The proposed Western Sydney Airport presents an opportunity to create an ‘aerotropolis’, Federal Minister for Urban Infrastructure, the Hon. Paul Fletcher has told a CEDA audience in Parramatta.


Mr Fletcher began his address by outlining the economic importance of airports around the globe, describing how Changi Airport generates over five per cent of Singapore’s GDP; and Heathrow Airport in London provides 25 per cent of the jobs in the communities around the airport.

“Importantly,” Mr Fletcher said, “There are economic benefits not just from a city’s first airport, but from other airports. I was particularly interested to visit Gatwick and Luton, two of the five airports serving London. The management teams at both of these airports highlighted the importance of their catchment areas.”

“Luton has an advantage for passengers to the north of London, and Gatwick for passengers to the south. Similarly, Western Sydney will have a natural catchment area. For around two million people, it will be closer than Kingsford Smith airport,” he said.

“The Chief Executive of one of our local low-cost carriers pointed out to me that he has customers living out in Western Sydney who are paying $69 for a flight from Sydney to Melbourne – but $180 in cab fares to get to and from Kingsford Smith Airport.

“This is an insight into how Western Sydney airport will stimulate additional traffic, as the total cost of an interstate trip will now be considerably lower for a lot of people.

“At Gatwick and Luton, they spoke of the number of people who work at the airport and live nearby… We can expect the same from Western Sydney Airport. By 2030, it’s expected to generate 9000 jobs, with most to be held by locals.”

Mr Fletcher also said that one of the economic advantages of an airport, is the capacity of an airport to “attract complementary economic development in the regions surrounding it” – such as commercial office facilities, business precincts, economic clusters in other sectors, and universities.

“A key lesson from … other airports around the world, is that maximising the economic impact of an airport requires not just planning for the airport itself, but also planning for complementary land use around the airport,” he said.

“The jargon term ‘aerotropolis’ is sometimes used to describe a cluster of economic activity centred on an airport.

“There are a number of reasons to be confident about Western Sydney Airport’s prospects. Demand for air travel has continued to rise steadily. Globally international air traffic rose six and a half per cent in 2015, and that’s well above the 10-year annual growth rate of five and a half per cent. In Australia, the growth in international scheduled air traffic reflects the international average, up six and a half per cent in August 2015 on the previous year.

“Currently, 40 per cent of international passengers land in Sydney, and international tourism demand in Australia is expected to grow by four and a half per cent per annum.

“Western Sydney Airport will provide vital expansion capacity to meet that demand.”

Mr Fletcher spoke about the job opportunities the proposed Western Sydney Airport would provide to the community.

“Let me mention one other economic impact we can expect from Western Sydney airport: it’s capacity to generate a substantial number of jobs for the residents of Western Sydney.

“Certainly some of that will come during construction. During the construction of about eight years, the airport is expected to generate over 11,000 full-time equivalent jobs. But airports generate more jobs in operation, than in construction.

“Currently, around one-third of Western Sydney workers commute outside the region each day. That’s unproductive time away from work, from home, and families. So local employment opportunities are critical and Western Sydney Airport will create jobs for workers both on site and in the surrounding region.

“Kingsford Smith Airport illustrates this point, with around 80 per cent of its workers living less than 30 minutes away.

“If airports are of such economic importance, then the opportunity to build a new one in Western Sydney is very valuable.”