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Western Sydney Airport – a catalyst for jobs and economic growth

Matt Coetzee

Matt Coetzee names three key factors that will spell the success of the Western Sydney Airport

05 May 2017 - Global engineering and infrastructure advisory firm Aurecon believes the proposed Western Sydney Airport will be guaranteed success as a major catalyst for economic development and job creation, if it addresses three key factors.

Launched by Prime Minister Turnbull as Australia’s next big nation building infrastructure development - Western Sydney Airport (WSA) may become Australia’s most significant economic growth engine.

Seen as a major catalyst for jobs and economic growth in western Sydney, the new airport is forecast to inject more than $1.9 billion into the economy during the construction phase alone, delivering 9,000 new jobs by early 2030 and 60,000 in the long term.

The vision for WSA is more than giving a burgeoning population a new place to catch a plane. The opportunity is to create an aviation hub, around which a larger business and economic development zone will develop, sometimes referred to as an ‘Aerotropolis’.

Aviation has changed our lives, how we receive goods, how we travel, how we do business, especially when it comes to time-critical activities. Now it is changing the physical, economic and social “shape” of our cities, as the cities evolve around these aviation hubs.

Once the airport was an annoying necessity, located away from business and residential areas. But a new trend is the purpose-built, transport and economic zone: a combination of airport, planned city, shipping facility, business hub, social meeting place and jobs catalyst, serviced by rail networks and highways.

When planned properly, such an aviation hub serves to connect businesses to their regional and global markets, providing opportunities for growth and job creation. Just as cities were shaped by their ports, then their railways and highways, now large urban precincts are springing up around airports. These cities capitalise on the connectivity of airport developments to provide access to national and global markets. Increasingly, airports are becoming the infrastructure and economic thread connecting us to unlimited global markets.

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement, in May 2017, that the Federal Government would fund the new Airport, Matt Coetzee, Global Leader of Environment and Planning for engineering and infrastructure advisors Aurecon, was asked by Australia’s national broadcaster The ABC News 24 to comment on key success factors for Western Sydney Airport.

Matt highlighted the three most important success factors. First, the need for a development authority, able to align the needs of all levels of government and the community, in defining the development and in driving it forward. Second, the importance of the right infrastructure connections between the airport and the surrounding economic and business catchment. Third, the need for a comprehensive but flexible master plan for the development, not only of the airport but also the surrounds. This will become the guiding blue-print around which the economy and new industries could thrive.

The hub airport is crucial because the more it becomes a router for the global economy, the more high-value, time-critical industries and employees will congregate there.

Aurecon has seen a dramatic increase in the number and scale of master planned airport driven developments from around the world, as Governments better understand their potential to drive economic activity. Between 2010 and 2030, world-wide commercial passenger traffic will likely increase from 4.9 billion to 13.3 billion and world air freight is expected to more than triple as almost all high-tech supply chains become connected by air cargo. These airports have therefore become major drivers of urban form, economic activity and city competitiveness.

Aurecon has a wealth of experience advising on and developing economic zones across Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Asia, as shown with these case studies:

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