As the world’s population rises, there is an ever-increasing demand for better infrastructure and transportation links, both in Australia and elsewhere.
Turkey, one of Europe’s fastest-growing economies, has just announced that it is planning to build the world’s biggest airport. The transport hub will be located in Istanbul and companies are now being invited to bid on the contract to build it. With six runways and the capacity to move 150 million passengers a year, the airport could be operating by 2016. By comparison, London’s Heathrow is currently the world’s largest airport and moves 70 million passengers a year.
Dubai airport, meanwhile, has expansion plans of its own and is hoping to be able to deal with 90 million passengers a year by 2018.
The demand is clearly there for business and international travel, and it is up to the world’s airports to keep up.
Based on the obvious trend of growth in travel, Australian airports will require considerable investment over the next decade. In Sydney, there have been calls for a second airport, as the current facility saw a record number of passengers in 2012. A total of 36.9 million people traveled through Sydney last year, and by 2035, airlines predict that Sydney will be seeing around 80 million passengers a year.
Two possible locations have been suggested for a second Sydney airport: Badgerys Creek in Sydney’s west and Wilton in the southwest portion of the city. Canberra could also be a possible alternative if necessary.
It is clear that a decision needs to be taken quickly. The airport is close to maximum capacity in terms of available flight slots, meaning that another airport could be needed within just 10 years.
Melbourne airport is also under pressure. The number of passengers using the airport grew by five per cent in 2012 and the airport is planning to open a third runway. This will allow for more flights to be scheduled and will mean the airport can move aircraft around more efficiently. Flight paths, for example, can be more direct and planes themselves will have a shorter journey to the runway. However, upgrading an airport’s facilities also means road and rail links will have to be considered; the whole system needs to work together to ensure fluidity and cohesion.
Airport infrastructure investment is crucial due at least in part to the economic impact airports have. According to a study undertaken by Melbourne airport, the facility supports almost 10,000 jobs in the local community. If Australia does not increase investment in its airports and surrounding infrastructure, jobs will undoubtedly be lost and congestion by road and rail will increase.
The expansion plans in Turkey and Dubai show that investment in infrastructure is high on the agenda for growing economies. Australia needs to follow suit and seriously consider infrastructure investment plans. After all, big business is most likely to be attracted to countries it can easily access.