Chinese market in airport’s sights

SYDNEY Airport was ”stepping up its role” in the tourism space, its chief executive, Kerrie Mather, said, and there had already been two recent wins with the arrival of low-cost Asian airlines AirAsia X and Scoot.

At a business lunch yesterday in Sydney, Ms Mather signalled closer co-operation with Tourism Australia and NSW Tourism. She said she had travelled to India as part of the NSW Tourism delegation, and hoped that direct flights to India from Sydney would eventuate. She had also just returned from China, which was a ”market with potential for us”.

Ms Mather said last year 640,000 passengers from China came through the airport, and this year China would move to second place, behind New Zealand, as the dominant nation for visitors through the airport.

She reiterated earlier comments that Sydney Airport Corporation welcomed the federal government identifying a future airport site for a second Sydney airport, and securing transportation corridors, but said the existing airport could deal with demand through 2045.

Last week the corporation issued legal proceedings against the Federal Minister for Transport, Anthony Albanese, after the government brought forward to next year a deadline for the airport to produce a draft masterplan.

Ms Mather said the airport was consulting about a new plan it announced last December, which will see a reconfiguration of the airport, including moving the jet base and air traffic control tower, and integrating domestic and international flights from the same terminals.

”We are halfway through that period of consultation, so we were on track delivering our master plan by 2014,” she said.

”It is important we incorporate [this vision] in the masterplan, so we need time to work through.

”So we have asked for the reasons why the masterplan has been bought forward.”

The airport had discussed with Qantas buying back its long-term leases for its jet base and terminal, which were not due to expire until 2019, considering that the Qantas sites took up 30 per cent of the airport’s footprint, she said.

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