License article

Spending $10b on new airport 'last thing we need'

Sydney Airport’s outspoken chairman, Max Moore-Wilton, has squared off against his counterpart at Qantas, Leigh Clifford, over the need for a second airport in Sydney.

With pressure building on the state and federal governments to find a solution to the vexed issue, Mr Clifford said ‘‘we need to get on with’’ a new airport because infrastructure was vital to the city.

‘‘We have got to get on with it and make a decision, and I recognise not everyone is going to love the decision. The important thing is, ‘get on with it’,’’  he told a business gathering in Sydney on Wednesday.

‘‘We are back there in the pack with the length of time it takes Britain to build Terminal Five [at Heathrow Airport in London].’’

Mr Clifford also said it needed to be recognised that Sydney Airport ‘‘hasn’t got that much free space’’.

Qantas favours Badgerys Creek in western Sydney as the location for a new airport.


Responding to the Qantas chairman, Mr Moore-Wilton told the audience that ‘‘Australia has to wake up to the fact that it can’t do everything at once’’ and argued that politics was stopping Sydney Airport from handling more planes and better utilising its runways.

‘‘It is almost immaterial what you and I do,’’ he told Mr Clifford. ‘‘It is what a few goats in Sydney and Canberra do that is going to make whether you make money or whether we make money – which I find incredibly depressing.

‘‘The last thing on infrastructure that we need to do when you come to work in the morning and see the gridlock and the fact that there isn’t a decent traffic network in Sydney, is to spend $10 billion on building a second Sydney airport.’’

Sydney Airport has repeatedly insisted that it has the ability to cope with increased demand for flights until at least 2050 through the use of bigger aircraft and efforts to make its facilities more efficient.