Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport (also known as Kingsford Smith Airport and Sydney Airport; IATA: SYD, ICAO: YSSY; ASX: SYD) is an international airport located 8 km (5 mi) south of the city centre, in the suburb of Mascot in Sydney. It is the only major airport serving Sydney, and is a primary hub for Qantas, as well as a secondary hub for Virgin Australia and Jetstar Airways. Situated next to Botany Bay, the airport has three runways, colloquially known as the "east–west", "north–south" and "third" runways.
Sydney Airport is both the longest continuously operated commercial airport and oldest commercial international airport in the world, the world's oldest continually operating commercial airport, and the busiest airport in Australia, handling 35,630,549 passengers in 2011 and 326,686 aircraft movements in 2013. It was the 31st busiest airport in the world in 2012. The airport is managed by Sydney Airport Corporation Limited (SACL) and the current CEO is Kerrie Mather. Currently 46 domestic and 43 international destinations are served to Sydney directly.
- Airlines and destinations
- Second Sydney airport
- Traffic and statistics
- Incidents and accidents
- See also
- External links
1920–30: Early history
The land used for the airport had been a bullock paddock.Nigel Love, a former wartime pilot, was looking into the possibilities for aviation in Australia. He was interested in establishing the nation's first aircraft manufacturing company. This idea required him to establish a factory and an aerodrome close to the city. His search for a potential site eventually led him to a real estate office in Sydney which was aware of some land owned by the Kensington Race Club (that was kept as a hedge against losing its government-owned site at Randwick). It had been used by a local abattoir, which was closing down, to graze sheep and cattle. This land appealed to Love, the surface was perfectly flat and was covered with a pasture of buffalo grass. This grass which had been grazed so evenly by the sheep and cattle running on it that it required little to make it serviceable to land aircraft. In addition, the approaches on all four sides had no obstructions, it was bounded by a racecourse, gardens, a river and Botany Bay.
Love established Mascot as a private concern, leasing 200 acres (0.81 km2) from the Kensington Race Club for three years. It initially had a small canvas structure but was later equipped with an imported Richards hangar. The first flight from Mascot was on 19 November 1919 when Love carried freelance movie photographer Billy Marshall up in an Avro. The official opening flight took place on 9 January 1920, also performed by Love.
In 1921 the federal government purchased 161 acres (0.65 km2) in Mascot for the purpose of creating a public airfield. In 1923, when Love's three-year lease expired, the Mascot land was compulsorily acquired by the federal government from the racing club. The first regular flights began in 1924.
In 1933 the first gravel runways were built. By 1949 the airport had three runways – the 1,085-metre (3,560 ft) 11/29, the 1,190-metre (3,904 ft) 16/34 and the 1,787-metre (5,863 ft) 04/22. The Sydenham to Botany railway line crossed the latter runway approximately 150 metres (490 ft) from the northern end and was protected by special safeworking facilities. The Cooks River was diverted away from the area in 1947–52 to provide more land for the airport and other small streams were filled. When Mascot was declared an aerodrome in 1920 it was known as Sydney Airport. On 14 August 1936 the airport was renamed Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport (Sydney Morning Herald 9 August 1938 p12) in honour of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, who was a pioneering Australian aviator. Up to the early sixties the majority of Sydney-siders referred to the airport as Mascot. The first paved runway was 07/25 and the next one constructed was 16/34 (now 16R/34L), jutting into Botany Bay, starting in 1959, to accommodate large jets. 07/25 is used mainly by lighter aircraft, although large four engine jet aircraft still periodically land on the runway from the east, when south-westerly winds are blowing in Sydney. 16R is presently the longest operational runway in Australia, with 14,300 ft (4,400 m) paved length and 12,850 ft (3,920 m) between the zebra thresholds.
By the 1960s the need for a new international terminal had become apparent, and work commenced in late 1966. Much of the new terminal was designed by Paynter and Dixon Industries. The plans for the design are held by the State Library of New South Wales.
The new terminal was officially opened on 3 May 1970, by Queen Elizabeth II. The first Boeing 747 "Jumbo Jet" at the airport, Pan American's Clipper Flying Cloud (N734PA), arrived on 4 October 1970. The east-west runway was then 8300 ft; in the 1970s the north-south runway was expanded to become one of the longest runways in the southern hemisphere. The international terminal was expanded in 1992 and has undergone several refurbishments since then, including one that was completed in early 2000 in order to re-invent the airport in time for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. The airport additionally underwent another project development that began in 2010 to extend the transit zone which brought new duty free facilities, shops & leisure areas for passengers.
The limitations of having only two runways that crossed each other had become apparent and governments grappled with Sydney's airport capacity for decades; eventually the controversial decision to build a third runway was made. The third runway was parallel to the existing runway 16/34, entirely on reclaimed land from Botany Bay. A proposed new airport on the outskirts of Sydney was shelved in 2004, before being re-examined in 2009–2012 showing that Kingsford Smith airport will not be able to cope by 2030.
The "third runway" (as it is known to Sydneysiders) which the Commonwealth government commenced development of in 1989 and completed in 1994, remained controversial because of increased aircraft movements, especially over many inner suburbs. The 1990s saw the formation of the No Aircraft Noise Party, although it failed to win a parliamentary seat. There has been general acquiescence in the arrangements for Sydney Airport that were introduced by the Howard government shortly after its election, namely to maintain curfews between 11pm and 6am, rotate runway operation and fan flight paths out, especially over water (especially Botany Bay) wherever possible and continue the use of noise abatement on aircraft on departure.
In 1995 the Australian Parliament passed the Sydney Airport Curfew Act 1995, which limits the operating hours of the airport. This was done in an effort to curb complaints about aircraft noise. The curfew prevents aircraft from taking off or landing between the hours of 11pm and 6am. A limited number of scheduled and approved take-offs and landings are permitted respectively in the "shoulder periods" of 11pm to midnight and 5am to 6am, by Section 12 of the Act. The Act does not stop all aircraft movements overnight, but limits movements by restricting the types of aircraft that can operate, the runways they can use and the number of flights allowed. During extreme weather, flights are often delayed and it is often the case that people on late flights are unable to travel on a given day. As of 2009, fines for violating curfew have been levied against four airlines, with a maximum fine of $550,000 applicable.
In addition to the curfew, Sydney Airport also has a cap of 80 aircraft movements per hour which cannot be exceeded, leading to increased delays during peak hours.
In 2002, the Australian Government sold Sydney Airports Corporation Limited (later renamed Sydney Airport Corporation Limited, SACL), the management authority for the airport, to Southern Cross Airports Corporation Holdings Ltd. 82.93 per cent of SACL is owned by MAp Airports International Limited, a subsidiary of Macquarie Bank, Sydney Airport Intervest GmbH own 12.11 per cent and Ontario Teachers' Australia Trust own 4.96 per cent. SACL holds a 99-year lease on the airport which remains Crown land and as such is categorised as a Leased Federal Airport.
Since the international terminal's original completion, it has undergone two large expansions. One such expansion is underway and will stretch over twenty years (2005–25). This will include an additional high-rise office block, the construction of a multi-level car park, the expansion of both international and domestic terminals. These expansions—and other plans and policies by Macquarie Bank for airport operations—are seen as controversial, as they are performed without the legal oversight of local councils, which usually act as the local planning authority for such developments. As of April 2006, some of the proposed development has been scaled back.
Sydney Airport's International terminal underwent a $500 million renovation that was completed in mid-2010. The upgrade includes a new baggage system, an extra 7,300 m2 (78,577 sq ft) of space for shops and passenger waiting areas and other improvements.
In March 2010, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission released a report sharply critical of price gouging at Sydney airport, ranking it fifth out of five airports. The report noted Sydney Airport recorded the highest average prices at $13.63 per passenger, compared to the lowest of $7.96 at Melbourne Airport, while the price of short-term parking had almost doubled in the 2008–09 financial year, from $28 to $50 for four hours. The report also accused the airport of abusing its monopoly power.
In December 2011, Sydney Airport announced a proposal to divide the airport into two airline-alliance-based precincts; integrating international, domestic and regional services under the one roof by 2019. The current domestic Terminal 2 and Terminal 3 would be used by Qantas, Jetstar and members of the oneworld airline alliance while today's international Terminal 1 would be used by Virgin Australia and its international partners. Other international airlines would continue to operate from T1.
In September 2012, Sydney Airport CEO Kerrie Mather announced the airport had abandoned the proposal to create alliance-based terminals in favour of terminals "based around specific airline requirements and (passenger) transfer flows". She stated the plan was to minimise the number of passengers transferring between terminals. In June 2013 the airport released a draft version of its 2013 Masterplan, which proposes operating domestic and international flights from the same terminals using 'swing gates', along with upgrading Terminal 3 (currently the Qantas domestic terminal) to accommodate the Airbus A380.
Sydney Airport has three passenger terminals. The International Terminal is separated from the other two by a runway, therefore connecting passengers need to allow for longer transfer times. Sydney Airport requires minimum connection times:
- From domestic flight to domestic flight: 30 minutes
- From domestic flight to international flight: 1 hour
- From international flight to domestic flight: 1 hour 15 minutes
- From international flight to international flight: 1 hour
The airport provides a shuttle service between the terminals at a cost of A$5.50.
Terminal 1 was opened on 3 May 1970, replacing the old Overseas Passenger Terminal (which was located where Terminal 3 stands now) and has been greatly expanded since then. Today it is known as the International Terminal, located in the airport's north western sector. It has 25 gates (thirteen in concourse B numbered 8–37, and twelve in concourse C numbered 50–63) served by aerobridges. There are also a number of remote bays, though these are rarely used. It can accommodate the Airbus A380 with flights to and from Singapore on Singapore Airlines; Dallas/Fort Worth, London via Dubai, Los Angeles and Hong Kong (in Summer and Chinese New Year) on Qantas; Dubai and Auckland on Emirates; and Guangzhou (in Summer) on China Southern Airlines. The terminal building is split into three levels, one each for arrivals, departures and airline offices. The departure level has 20 rows of check-in desks each with 10 single desks making a total of 200 check-in desks. The terminal also has an observation deck located on the rooftop. The terminal hosts eight airline lounges: Two for Qantas, and one each for Etihad Airways, Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines, Emirates, American Express and SkyTeam. The terminal underwent a major $500 million redevelopment that was completed in 2010, by which the shopping complex was expanded, outbound customs operations were centralised and the floor space of the terminal increased to 254,000 square metres (2,730,000 sq ft).
Terminal 2, located in the airport's north-eastern section, was the former home of Ansett Australia's domestic operations. It features 16 parking bays served by aerobridges and several remote bays for regional aircraft. Today it serves Virgin Australia, Virgin Australia Regional Airlines, Jetstar, Tigerair Australia and Regional Express Airlines. There are lounges for Virgin Australia and Regional Express Airlines.
Terminal 3 is a domestic terminal, serving Qantas with QantasLink flights having moved their operations from Terminal 2 to Terminal 3 on 16 August 2013 Originally, it was home for Trans Australia Airlines (later named Australian Airlines). Like Terminal 2 it is located in the north-eastern section. The current terminal building is largely the result of extensions made during the late 1990s. There are 14 parking bays served by aerobridges, including two served by dual aerobridges. Terminal 3 features a large Qantas Club lounge, along with a dedicated Business Class and Chairmans lounge. Terminal 3 also has a 'Heritage Collection' located adjacent to gate 13, dedicated to Qantas and including many collections from the airline's 90-plus years of service. It also has a view of the airport's apron and is used commonly by plane-spotters.
Sydney Airport had a fourth passenger terminal, east of Terminal 2. This was formerly known as Domestic Express and was used by Regional Express Airlines; and low-cost carriers Virgin Blue (now known as Virgin Australia) and the now-defunct Impulse Airlines; during the time Terminal 2 was closed following the collapse of Ansett Australia. It is now used by DHL Express and Tasman Cargo Airlines as an office building.
The dedicated Freight Terminal is located north of Terminal 1. It is used for international freight operations, except for Tasman Cargo Airlines' trans-Tasman services. It is also used as overflow parking when all Terminal 1 gates are occupied.
Airlines and destinations
|Cathay Pacific Cargo||Hong Kong, Melbourne||Freight|
operated by Tasman Cargo Airlines
|Auckland, Nouméa, Melbourne||Note 2|
operated by Pel-Air
|Brisbane, Melbourne, Cairns||Note 2|
|Emirates SkyCargo||Dubai-Al Maktoum,Hong Kong, Singapore||Freight|
|FedEx Express||Guangzhou, Los Angeles, Manila, Honolulu||Freight|
|Korean Air Cargo||Guangzhou, Seoul-Incheon||Freight|
|MASkargo||Da Nang, Kuala Lumpur||Freight|
operated by Express Freighters Australia
|Brisbane, Melbourne||Note 2|
operated by Atlas Air
|Chongqing, Chicago-O'Hare, Hong Kong, Jakarta-Soekarno Hatta. Honolulu, Medan,Shanghai-Pudong||Freight|
operated by Express Freighters Australia
|Singapore Airlines Cargo||Adelaide, Auckland, Melbourne, Singapore||Freight|
|Thai Airways Cargo||Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi||Freight|
operated by Airwork
|Brisbane, Melbourne||Note 2|
|UPS Airlines||Anchorage, Nadi, Honolulu, Los Angeles||Freight|
- ^1 These flights may make an intermediate domestic stop en route to their listed final destination; however the airlines have no traffic rights to carry passengers solely between Sydney and the intermediate Australian stop.
- ^2 Each of these freight companies has its own facility (each located on different parts of the airport) and does not operate from the International freight terminal
Second Sydney airport
The local, state and federal governments have investigated the viability of building a second major airport in Sydney since the 1940s. Between 1987 and 2000, domestic flights through Sydney more than doubled to nearly 27 million, and international passengers served increased from 8 million to 15 million. The Sydney region passenger demand is forecast to reach 87 million passengers by 2035, more than doubling, and to double again by 2060. Close to half of all scheduled flights in Australia take off or land at Kingsford Smith. In 1998 the airport handled 45 per cent of international passengers in Australia.
The Federal Government has bought most of the required land in a proposed site at Badgerys Creek, west of Sydney. This site would be accessible by the Westlink M7 motorway. Despite acquiring almost all the land necessary for the building of the Badgerys Creek airport, and multiple studies and reports commissioned that recommended building the airport, in 1995 new airport leasing legislation was blocked in the Australian Senate, and construction was delayed until after the 2000 Sydney Olympics. All the major Australian airlines, including Qantas, indicated they would prefer additional development of Kingsford-Smith Airport. In 1998 most local authorities reversed their previous support of the new airport and protested against potential noise and pollution impacts. After the 2001 terrorist attacks decimated the air travel industry, the national government announced its belief that the current Sydney airport could accommodate additional air travel demands for at least another decade.
The issue of a second airport for Sydney arose again after the Rudd government was elected in 2007. Convinced that capacity at the current airport will be exhausted, it investigated Badgerys Creek, Wilton, Camden, Richmond and Canberra for feasibility, while Bankstown Airport was ruled out as being expanded from a light aircraft airport.
On 15 April 2014, the Federal Government announced that Badgerys Creek would be Sydney's second international airport, to be known as Western Sydney Airport. Press releases suggest that the airport will not be subject to curfews and will open in phases, initially with a single airport runway and terminal. It would be linked to Sydney Airport by local roads and motorways, and by extensions to the existing suburban rail network.
Traffic and statistics
|Rank||Airport||Passengers handled||% Change|
|1||10 !Victoria, Melbourne||8,322,300||07 !0.9|
|2||04 !Queensland, Brisbane||4,447,900||03 !0.5|
|3||08 !Queensland, Gold Coast||2,596,400||12 !1.5|
|4||01 !South Australia, Adelaide||1,813,000||10 !3.5|
|5||11 !Western Australia, Perth||1,798,900||01 !0.1|
|6||05 !Queensland, Cairns||1,000,900||02 !2.3|
|7||06 !Australian Capital Territory, Canberra||968,200||09 !5.8|
|8||09 !Tasmania, Hobart||536,400||11 !3.7|
|9||12 !Queensland, Sunshine Coast||464,100||04 !0.1|
|10||07 !New South Wales, Coffs Harbour||344,400||05 !6.4|
|11||02 !Northern Territory, Darwin||327,300||08 !8.3|
|12||03 !New South Wales, Ballina||320,300||06 !1.4|
|13||03 !Tasmania, Launceston||295,700||06 !8.5|
|14||03 !New South Wales, Albury||225,400||06 !3.9|
|15||12 !Queensland, Hamilton Island||209,900||04 !4.5|
|Rank||Airport||Passengers handled||% change|
|1||02 !New Zealand, Auckland||1,483,183||09 !3.7|
|2||14 !Singapore, Singapore||1,363,727||07 !0.4|
|3||06 !Hong Kong, Hong Kong||925,337||06 !0.2|
|4||10 !United States, Los Angeles||895,393||04 !0.9|
|5||08 !Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur||799,976||01 !23.8|
|6||05 !United Arab Emirates, Dubai||777,600||11 !13.2|
|7||03 !Thailand, Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi||499,741||12 !12.1|
|8||04 !New Zealand, Christchurch||481,849||15 !5.8|
|9||11 !Fiji, Nadi||456,889||03 !3.2|
|10||01 !United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi||406,682||05 !4.6|
|11||12 !United States, Honolulu||394,338||13 !2.7|
|12||13 !People's Republic of China, Shanghai-Pudong||393,901||02 !2.0|
|13||15 !Japan, Tokyo-Narita||381,652||08 !3.8|
|14||07 !Indonesia, Denpasar||380,929||14 !13.1|
|15||09 !China, Guangzhou||340,202||10 !5.6|
In 2012, Sydney Airport served 22,652,282 (3.3% higher than the previous year) domestic, 1,986,595 (down 0.7%) regional and 12,372,246 (up 5.3%) international passengers. In total there were 37,011,123 (3.7%) passengers.
The airport is accessible via the Airport Link underground rail line. The International railway station is located below the International terminal, while the domestic railway station is located under the car park between the domestic terminals (Terminal 2 and Terminal 3). While the stations are part of the Sydney Trains suburban network, they are privately owned and operated by the Airport Link consortium and their use is subject to a surcharge. The trains that service the airport are regular suburban trains. Unlike airport trains at other airports, these do not have special provisions for customers with luggage, do not operate express to the airport and may have all seats occupied by commuters before the trains arrive at the airport. The closest non-surcharge stations are Mascot station (domestic terminal) and Wolli Creek station (international terminal). Each are within 20 to 30 minute walking distance from the respective terminals.
Sydney Buses operate route 400 from Burwood to Bondi Junction railway stations which stops at both the International and Domestic terminals. This route connects to the eastern suburbs, Inner West and St George areas.
Sydney Airport has road connections in all directions. Southern Cross Drive (M1), a motorway, is the fastest link with the city centre. The M5 South Western Motorway (including the M5 East Freeway) links the airport with the south-western suburbs of Sydney. A ring road runs around the airport consisting of Airport Drive, Qantas Drive, General Holmes Drive, M5 East Freeway and Marsh Street. General Holmes Drive features a tunnel under the main north-south runway and three taxiways as well as providing access to an aircraft viewing area. Inside the airport a part-ring road – Ross Smith Avenue (named after Ross MacPherson Smith) – connects the Domestic Terminal with the control tower, the general aviation area, car-rental company storage yards, long-term car park, heliport, various retail operations and a hotel. A perimeter road runs inside the secured area for authorised vehicles only.
The Airport runs several official car parks—Domestic Short Term, Domestic Remote Long Term, and International Short/Long Term.
The International Terminal is located beside a wide pedestrian and bicycle path. It links Mascot and Sydney City in the north-east with Tempe (via a foot bridge over Alexandra Canal) and Botany Bay to the south-west. All terminals offer bicycle racks and are also easily accessible by foot from nearby areas.
Incidents and accidents
- On 19 July 1945 a Consolidated C-87 Liberator Express operated by the Royal Air Force bound for Manus Island failed to gain altitude after taking off from runway 22, struck trees and crashed into Muddy Creek, north of Brighton. The aircraft exploded on impact, killing all 12 passengers and crew on board. All the victims were service personnel, five from the RAF, one from the Royal New Zealand Air Force and six from the Royal Navy.
- On 18 June 1950 a Douglas DC-3 of Ansett Airways taxiing for take-off from Sydney's now non-existent runway 22 for a night-time passenger flight to Brisbane, hit and partially derailed a coal train travelling on the railway line that crossed the runway. Only the co-pilot was injured.
- On 30 November 1961, Ansett-ANA Flight 325, a Vickers Viscount, crashed into Botany Bay shortly after take-off. The starboard (right) wing failed after the aircraft flew into a thunderstorm. All 15 people on board were killed.
- On 1 December 1969, Boeing 707-321B N892PA of Pan Am Flight 812 overran the runway during take-off due to bird strikes. The accident investigation established that the aircraft struck a flock of seagulls, with a minimum of 11 individual bird strikes to the leading edges of the wings and engines 1, 2, and 3. In particular, blade 14 of number 2 engine was damaged by a single bird carcass and lost power before the decision to abandon the take-off (which occurred at or near V1 or takeoff decision speed). The aircraft came to rest 560 ft (170 m) beyond the end of runway 34 (now runway 34L). During the crash, number 2 engine hit the ground and was damaged. The nose and left main landing gears failed and the aircraft came to rest supported by engines 1 and 2, the nose, and the remainder of the main landing gear. There were no injuries or fatalities amongst the 125 passengers and 11 crew. The accident investigation concluded that the overrun was not inevitable.
- On 29 January 1971, Boeing 727 of Trans Australia Airlines registered VH-TJA, Flight 592, struck the tail of Canadian Pacific Air Lines Douglas DC-8, registered CF-CPQ, Flight 592 during take-off. The DC-8 misinterpreted instructions on which exit to use after landing and the tower cleared the 727 for take-off before the runway was clear. The 727 then proceeded to attempt take-off rather than take evasive measures. After impact the 727 experienced a tear in the fuselage and lost some hydraulic pressure but managed to return and land safely.
- On 21 February 1980, Advance Airlines Flight 4210 registered VH-AAV, a Beechcraft Super King Air took off from Sydney Airport and suffered an engine failure. The pilot flew the aircraft back to the airport and attempted to land but crashed into the sea wall. All 13 people on board died in the accident.
- On 24 April 1994, a Douglas DC-3 registered VH-EDC of South Pacific Airmotive had an engine malfunction shortly after take-off on a charter flight to Norfolk Island. The engine was feathered but airspeed decayed and it was found to be impossible to maintain height. A successful ditching was carried out into Botany Bay. All four crew and 21 passengers safely evacuated the aircraft. The investigation revealed that the propeller was not fully feathered.
- On 23 March 2009, Terminal 3 was the scene of a brawl involving 10 people in the two rival bikie gangs, the Hells Angels and Comancheros. The brawl left one man dead and was witnessed by over 50 travellers, CCTV cameras and airport staff including airport security who could do little to intervene.
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- "Accident description:VH-EDC 24 April 1994". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 2 October 2009.
- Bureau of Air Safety Investigation (BASI) (5 March 1996). Investigation Report, No. 9401043, Douglas Aircraft Co Inc DC3C-S1C3G, VH-EDC, Botany Bay, NSW, 24 April 1994 (PDF). Department of Transport (Australia). ISBN 0 642 24566 5. Retrieved 24 February 2015.
- Dylan Welch, Les Kennedy and Ellie Harvey (23 March 2009). "Bikie killed in Sydney Airport brawl". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
Media related to Sydney Airport at Wikimedia Commons
- Sydney Airport Homepage
- Sydney Airport Wikivoyage page
- Sydney Tower
- Sydney Airport Frequency and Airway Data
- Visit: Website
- Hours: 3AM to 11:00PM Everyday
- Address: Airport Dr, Sydney NSW 2020, Australia