Infrastructure priorities highlight importance of aviation growth
Today’s release of the Infrastructure Priorities List confirms the importance of continued airport investment to meet growing demand.
A number of projects that will increase the capacity of the national aviation network are included in the report, as are key projects that will improve access to and from Australia’s airports.
As Infrastructure Australia Chair Julieanne Alroe confirms, smart infrastructure investment must be about more than “just keeping pace with demand”.
To that end, it is important to note that these significant projects are really just the beginning.
There will be many more projects both big and small delivered over this time than those listed in Infrastructure Australia’s report this week.
However, the projects that made the Infrastructure Priorities List do highlight some important areas of focus in the future.
Improving access to the airport
Airports have invested significantly in ground transport improvements to give passengers more choice in how they get to and from the airport.
The rise of ridesharing services and better access to public transport has seen a move away from driving to and from the airport yourself in recent years.
However, ensuring ease of access for both motorists and public transport users remains a constant focus for the industry.
The Sydney Gateway project, which has been confirmed as a high priority initiative, is a good example of this.
Sydney Airport has worked very closely with the NSW Government on planning for the project to ensure it not only helps make the journey to the airport faster, safer and easier, but eases congestion for the local community and commuter traffic passing through the area.
As Sydney Airport CEO Geoff Culbert says, it is a “game changer” that will soon allow motorists drive from Parramatta to the airport and back without encountering a traffic light.
At Melbourne Airport, public transport access remains a priority initiative, and the proposed rail line will be a key part of this.
The AAA welcomed AirRail Melbourne’s proposal for the project last year, which would match the $5 billion funding announced by both the Australian and Victorian governments.
The consortium, which consists of IFM Investors, Melbourne Airport, Metro Trains Australia and Southern Cross Station, demonstrates the private sector’s interest in transformational projects like this one.
Separate to the rail project, Melbourne Airport is already embarking on the redevelopment of its terminal precinct roads network. This investment of more than $300 million will improve the passenger pick up and drop off experience, as well as busting congestion at Australia’s fastest growing major airport. The new developments will see free passenger pick up / drop off areas expanded, direct freeway connections and removal of intersections from the passenger journey.
This highlights the need for a multidimensional approach to ensure all visitors can access the airport easily, no matter how they choose to get there.
These projects, together with a host of others across the country, are giving visitors that choice and convenience to ensure their experience of the airport gets off to the right start.
New runways building capacity
New runways are planned at Melbourne and Perth airports and have been earmarked by Infrastructure Australia as priority initiatives.
Both projects are absolutely essential for their communities.
Melbourne Airport will soon reach capacity during peak periods and needs a third runway to help facilitate the doubling in passenger numbers it expects to see in the next 20 years.
This is not just critical for tourism in Victoria – it’s also essential to meet growing demand for air freight and ensure Australian services industries (such as education) can continue to market their offering globally with ease.
In Perth, passenger numbers are expected to grow from 13.7 million passengers to 34.5 million by 2045, requiring the airport to facilitate an additional 90,000 aircraft movements a year.
By improving connectivity between businesses, tourism and employment, Perth’s new runway will allow the state’s economy to grow.
Both new runways will also boost the effectiveness of the national network.
With Brisbane Airport to complete its new runway next year, it is important that the network as a whole can grow to facilitate the domestic travel market that is so critical to a country like ours.
These projects will not just allow more flights to occur, but will ensure more efficient movement of aircraft across the country – something that will only benefit passengers over the long term.
Western Sydney Airport
Unlike some other parts of the world, Australia has facilitated significant growth in passenger numbers in recent years without the need for building additional airports.
While our existing airports continue to grow to meet increasing demand, the new Western Sydney Airport will be an important addition to support the growing western suburbs in the NSW capital.
We look forward to seeing the airport’s construction progress in the lead up to its opening in 2026.
By Caroline Wilkie
Caroline Wilkie is the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Airports Association.