SYDNEY is set to gain a second airport, however Orange’s sole regional airline has urged the government to maintain access to Sydney’s Kingsford Smith Airport.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced a $2.5 billion airport for Badgerys Creek on Tuesday afternoon, with planning and design work to start immediately.
Construction is expected to start in 2016, with completion expected in the mid-2020s.
Regional Express (Rex) is currently the only airline flying in and out of Orange.
A Rex spokeswoman said the government had legislated ring-fence protection of NSW regional landing slots at Kingsford Smith as part of its recent master plan, meaning regional flights would continue to operate to and from Mascot after Badgerys Creek comes online.
“The continued guaranteed access to Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport for regional NSW is critical to the sustainable provision of NSW regional air services,” she said.
“Rex welcomes initiatives that help to reduce capacity pressures on Sydney KSA, however it is imperative that NSW regional communities have continued guaranteed access to Sydney airport.”
Deputy Mayor Chris Gryllis believed the start Orange City Council had made on Orange Regional Airport put it “one step ahead”.
“It verifies that we’ve done the right thing, that we have spent the money to make the airport good enough for the next 30-40 years,” he said.
“It’s good that we are preparing for what will be a big industry.”
In 2010 -11, 60,000 people regularly used the airport to travel between Orange and Sydney.
Councillor Jeff Whitton had previously voiced concerns about using Badgerys Creek instead of Kingsford Smith.
He said interstate travellers would have been better off driving to Canberra Airport rather than landing at Badgerys Creek and travelling more than 50 kilometres to Kingsford Smith to change flights.
A second Sydney airport has been investigated since 1946 and the Badgerys Creek site has been earmarked since 1986 when land was purchased by the Hawke government.
It was dumped due to opposition in 2000, but revived in a 2012 report.