Second airport cast as white elephant
Sydney Airport's outspoken chairman, Max Moore-Wilton, claims a second airport for the city would become a "white elephant" and cost taxpayers billions of dollars.
Weeks before Australia's largest airport is to release its 20-year vision, Mr Moore-Wilton questioned Qantas and Virgin Australia's willingness to use a second airport.
He also encouraged the listed entity's 35,000 shareholders to lobby their MPs and communities in support of its vision to cater for travel demand over the coming decades.
The airport will release a draft master plan next month, which will detail a $1 billion-plus makeover of the domestic and international terminals. It wants to break the divide between the terminals, allowing passengers to more easily catch connecting flights.
But it has backed away from plans to put Virgin and its alliance partners at one terminal, and Qantas and its partner airlines at another, because of resistance from Australia's second-largest airline.
Speaking at its annual meeting on Thursday, Mr Moore-Wilton said the draft master plan would outline the reasons why the airport should remain the country's principle airport. He again emphasised the airport's ability to handle increased demand over the longer term, and questioned the need for a competing airport.
"For a government, any government to spend several billions of dollars to replace and compete with that asset [Sydney Airport] unnecessarily would be a complete and utter waste of money," he told shareholders. "Billions of dollars are a scare commodity - heaven knows there are many other things that need to be done in terms of Australia's infrastructure than building white elephants."
Mr Moore-Wilton said he had yet to see a business plan that showed a new airport would be able to cover the cost of building it.
"To some extent, the people who still say there needs to be a second airport believe that you are in a static framework," he said, pointing out Sydney Airport had doubled passengers over the past 10 years while the number of flights required to meet that demand had remained the same. It has first rights to operate a second airport within 100 kilometres of the CBD.
The Macquarie Group-backed airport raised its forecasts for distributions this year as it banks on increased growth spurred by foreign budget airlines and the effect of alliances such as Qantas and Emirates. It is forecasting a distribution of 22.5¢ per security this year, up from 21¢ last year.