International aircraft will begin to use Sydney Airport's existing domestic terminals and car parking and roads links bolstered under long-term expansion plans to cope with surging passenger demand.
A 20-year blueprint for Australia's busiest airport – released on Monday – also shows the operator believes the “optimal route” for a motorway link to the WestConnex tollroad will be through a 13-hectare block of land north of Kingsford Smith.
The “northern lands” are held by the airport under a 99-year lease, and have complicated the Berejiklian government's plans for a $1.8 billion road link known as the Sydney Gateway between an interchange for WestConnex at St Peters and the airport and Port Botany.
Sydney Airport wants to develop the northern lands to include new freight facilities, and support services for catering, and vehicle storage.
But in a sign it believes a road link is crucial to easing congestion, the airport said in its draft master plan that development in the northern lands is “likely to be staged, subject to any Sydney Gateway” connection.
“A Sydney Gateway connection will complement Sydney Airport’s planned infrastructure improvements,” it said.
Despite construction of WestConnex starting three years ago, the state's roads agency is still preparing concept designs and a business case for the Gateway link.
Even with the opening of a competing airport at Badgerys Creek in 2026, Sydney Airport forecasts passengers to surge by 51 per cent to 65.6 million in 2039.
The main driver of the increase will be from international travellers, who are forecast to nearly double over the next 20 years to 31.5 million.
One of its centrepiece plans is for an “integrated operations precinct” at the existing T2 and T3 domestic terminals which will allow for international flights.
The existing T1 international terminal, however, will remain its main entry and exit point for people flying abroad.
Concerns about road congestion and public transport links have easily overtaken aircraft noise as the biggest gripe the public has about the airport.
And the draft masterplan for Kingsford Smith warns that the projected increase in passenger numbers will put further pressure on roads and other transport infrastructure.
The airport expects vehicle traffic funnelled to and from WestConnex to put increased pressure on intersections near the domestic terminals.
However, it is counting on the plans for the T2-T3 precinct to help spread traffic because of the “complimentary” nature of peak arrival and departure times for domestic and international flights.
Under plans to ease road congestion over the next five years, the airport proposes a new integrated pick-up and drop-off facility south of the existing car-park building at the international terminal.
The airport is also planning to widen exit ramps to Marsh Street and Airport Drive to two lanes
And because of greater “non-airport” traffic volumes, the airport said Qantas Drive and Airport Drive around its northern perimeter would need to be widened from two lanes in each direction to four.