Liverpool: the gateway to Sydney’s aerotropolis

Airports Economic development Greater Western Sydney

Western Sydney Airport (WSA) is a once-in-many-generations opportunity for Western Sydney. Rather than simply being a place that planes land, it is reasonable for WSA to be the centrepiece of a holistic development at the airport and in its surrounds, to maximise the economic and social benefits that the airport can provide. With the right planning and investment, there is the potential for an ‘aerotropolis’ to form around WSA: a metropolitan sub-region whose infrastructure, land use and economy are centred on an airport.’ 

A number of international airports have realised the compounding benefits of creating developments to house aviation-enabled businesses such as logistics and distribution, manufacturing, hotels, conference venues in one discrete area. Incheon Airport in Seoul and Dallas Fortworth International Airport in Texas have become major economic hubs through the successful implementation of this strategy, demonstrating the mutually reinforcing benefits generated by an airport and the development of its surrounding areas (see Appendix B).

One of Australia’s most significant airports

Success begins with the airport itself. WSA is positioned to become far more than an ‘overflow’ airport that only services the low-cost leisure market. Its 24-hour operations will: ensure that WSA quickly becomes a nationally significant airfreight hub; and attract full-service airlines looking to capitalise on the need of business travellers for more convenient overnight connections to Asia and beyond.

Over time, the airport will become one of Australia’s most significant airports, driven by Western Sydney’s population and growing economy (now the third largest in Australia), Sydney’s overall position as Australia’s most populous city and largest international trade hub, and increasing capacity constraints at Kingsford Smith Airport (KSA). It is expected that slots at KSA will be fully allocated by around 2030. The WSA site on the other hand will have the flexibility for further expansion in response to passenger demand over time. Within 50 years it is expected to accommodate 82 million passenger movements per year; double the number that KSA does today and more than Heathrow Airport in London.

A new, greenfield international airport in a developed city is rare. WSA has the enviable opportunity to leap-frog efforts of its peers to improve the sustainability of operations and develop a smart aerotropolis that is consistent with 21st century practice.

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