“For half a century Sydneysiders have talked about a second airport,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said as the first ground was broken at the Badgerys Creek site.
“This airport will remove the handbrake from the Western Sydney economy.”
Western Sydney Airport is expected to cater to up to 10 million passengers each year when it first opens.
However, a gradual expansion to two runways will dramatically increase its capacity to some 82 million passengers – which the government said is on par with the likes of London Heathrow and JFK airports in the UK and US, respectively.
Mr Morrison called the new airport “job-generating infrastructure”.
“Most times when infrastructure is built, there is job creation in the short-term and then it tails off when the project is completed. But with this project, job creation will accelerate when the airport is completed.”
Adding to this, federal Minister for Cities, Urban Infrastructure and Population, Alan Tudge, said that “around 11,000 jobs will be created during the construction phase and around 28,000 within five years of opening.”
Initial works are focused on levelling the site and will involve moving 1.8 million cubic metres of earth. That process – which will remove the equivalent of a 12-storey building in height difference between the highest and lowest points of the site – will take several months.
Major earthworks are then due to being in 2019.
The federal government is investing up to $5.3 billion in equity towards the project.
The Western Sydney region ranks as one of Australia’s largest economies in its own right, and is home to almost half of the population of Australia’s largest city.