A report by Commonwealth Bank infrastructure analysts titled Sydney Versus the World, released on Thursday, estimated Australia's premier gateway will reach its full capacity by 2025.
Andre Fromyhr and Matt Crowe, authors of the study, said passenger forecasts point to a 61 per cent higher passenger volume in 2025. If no major infrastructure investment is made, they warned that Sydney Airport would match the situation in Beijing Airport which has a current 99 per cent utilisation of design capacity.
It reckoned that in the next 12 years, 60 million passengers will use Sydney Airport, 20 years ahead of previous projections. The new report bolsters the push by Transport Minister Anthony Albanese for the construction of a second gateway in Sydney.
The airport's management team had insisted in the past that full capacity would only be reached until 2045. In 2012, Sydney Airport handled 35 million passengers.
Various groups continue to debate on the site of the proposed second airport from Badgerys Creek and Wilton on the city's outskirts up to as far as Canberra and Newcastle. In preparation for the second gateway, the federal government spent $170 million in the late 1980s and early 1990s to buy land at Badgery's Creek, but the decision to proceed with construction is still pending.
Besides the site of the second airport, other factors to consider in making a decision are the noise sharing rules and limits on aircraft movements per hour. CommSec chief economist Craig James pointed out that even if capacity constraints are not pressing yet, policymakers could not take too long on a decision due to long construction timetables.
Other airports with high capacity utilisation are Heathrow in London, the Hong Kong, Bangkok and Atlanta Airports and the Haneda Airport in Tokyo. However, when compared to the Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth Airports, the Sydney gateway has still the best utilisation rate among Australian airports.