First sod turned at Western Sydney Airport

Construction on Western Sydney Airport has begun today.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was at the Badgerys Creek site to turn the first sod.

“For half a century Sydneysiders have talked about a second airport,” Mr Morrison said.

“By tomorrow, bulldozers will be moving and work on the Western Sydney Airport will be underway.

“This airport will remove the handbrake from the western Sydney economy.

“This is job-generating infrastructure. Most times when infrastructure is built, there is job creation in the short-term and then it tails off when the project is completed.

“But with this project, job creation will accelerate when the airport is completed.”

Western Sydney Airport Chief Executive Graham Millett said today marked the “end of a long journey and the start of an exciting new one”.

“It’s been talked about for decades, but now we’re ending the speculation – Western Sydney Airport is coming,” he said.

“The site is very challenging, the difference between the highest and lowest points is the equivalent of a 12-storey building,” Mr Millett said.   

“These initial earthworks will help prepare the ground for eventual runway and terminal construction.” 

The initial earthworks phase of construction is expected to take until the end of 2019. It involves moving around 1.8 million cubic metres of earth, which is the equivalent of about 720 Olympic swimming pools. 

This significant task pales in comparison to the challenge ahead of Western Sydney Airport’s major earthworks.

Due to begin in 2019, major earthworks will shift 22 million cubic metres of earth, more than three times the amount moved to build the nearby, 41-kilometre M7 motorway. 

“Building Western Sydney Airport is one of the biggest earthmoving challenges in Australian history,” Mr Millett said.   

A workforce of around 180 people will carry out the initial earthworks. Over the course of the airport construction project, 11,000 jobs are set to be created, with a target of at least one-third coming from Western Sydney. 

“Western Sydney Airport will generate prosperity in the region - our local employment target means that starts now,” Mr Millett said.   

Western Sydney Airport is due to open in 2026 and will be a full-service airport with international, domestic and regional flights. It will also cater for freight flights, opening up new possibilities for Australian exporters and helping to tackle the nation’s growing freight task.   

The airport will cater for up to 10 million passengers when it opens, but a gradual expansion to two runways means it will eventually cater for up to 82 million passengers, the size of London Heathrow and JFK in New York.

“Both Qantas and Virgin have committed to flying from Western Sydney Airport,” Mr Millett said.   

“That’s a major vote of confidence and reflects the strong growth forecasts for the Asia-Pacific aviation market.”