Economic Impact

Updated May 2015

Airports are economic powerhouses driving jobs and growth

International trade and air routes are vital to Australia’s continued national prosperity. Airports are an essential part of the transport networks on which all successful modern economies rely.

Sydney Airport is a major generator of economic activity and jobs, both of which grow every year. Its close proximity only 8km from Sydney’s Central Business District and 10km from major tourist attractions also provides a unique advantage for business, tourism and major events over other state capitals.

For example, Sydney Airport:

  • Attracts new investment to the Australian, NSW and Sydney economies
  • Promotes exports through air freight and enhances the competitiveness of our economy through the provision of efficient passenger and freight services
  • Attracts new businesses, leisure activities, major events and tourism organisations, creating tens of thousands of jobs in Sydney alone
  • Serves as a hub for travel between regional NSW, other Australian cities and the world.

Creating jobs and economic activity

Sydney Airport commissioned Deloitte Access Economics to conduct an economic contribution study in 2012. This report was updated recently to reflect the increased economic activity and jobs generated by the airport. The report shows that Sydney Airport generates or facilitates:

Economic activity 2012 2014 Description
Total economic contribution $27.6b $30.8b The value added generated or facilitated by Sydney Airport is equivalent to 6.4% of NSW GSP
Direct and indirect employment 283,000
(28,000 on-airport)
(29,090 on-airport)
The number of FTE jobs generated or facilitated by Sydney Airport is equivalent to 8.9% of NSW employment 
Direct and indirect household income $13.2b $14.7b The economic activity generated or facilitated by Sydney Airport contributes $14.7 billion to household incomes 
Average wage of airport workers $82,000  $87,900  The average FTE wage of an employee working on the Sydney Airport precinct is 12% higher than the NSW average

In just two years, an additional 23,000 jobs have been created, more than 1,000 of which are at the airport itself.

Over 20 years, it is forecast that the economic activity generated or facilitated by Sydney Airport will increase from $30.8 billion in 2014 to over $54.5 billion in 2034. Total employment will increase from 306,700 in 2014 to almost 507,000 by 2034.

A relatively small activity at the airport can have a potentially large positive economic impact for Sydney, NSW and Australia. For example, an additional daily A380 service to Sydney from China would, over a year, contribute an estimated:

  • $451 million to the Australian economy
  • $271 million to Australia’s household income
  • 5,260 jobs (4,130 of which would be in NSW).

Supporting tourism

Importantly, Sydney Airport is a major jobs generator for local communities in Sydney’s east and south, with more than 75 per cent of on-airport workers living in the local communities surrounding the airport.

Sydney Airport has an unmatched route network to 88 destinations, which includes 44 international, 22 domestic and 22 regional destinations. Sydney’s status as Australia’s gateway and only global city supports this route network and the development of Sydney Airport and related businesses. The availability of direct flights to a wide network of destinations also significantly strengthens the competitiveness of Sydney and the NSW visitor economy.

 Sydney Airport partners with industry and government organisations to grow tourism. For example, the airport works with Destination NSW to grow additional services to Sydney. This directly supports the NSW Government’s target to double overnight visitor expenditure by 2020, in line with the national Tourism 2020 growth targets. Sydney Airport also works with Tourism Australia to promote tourism to Australia and the value of Sydney as Australia’s international gateway.

Air freight

Air freight is a vital economic activity that contributes significantly to global business and to the NSW and Australian economy. Importantly, for many airlines, the value of freight carried in passenger aircraft creates additional revenue that supports the economic viability of a route. More than 80 per cent of all air freight is carried in the belly of passenger aircraft, highlighting the importance to passenger airlines. Sydney Airport is Australia’s largest international and domestic air freight hub. In 2014, Sydney Airport handled around 517,000 tonnes of air freight (of which over 408,000 tonnes was international air freight), more than half of Australia’s total. In 2014, Sydney Airport facilitated the export of $14.6 billion worth of freight to international markets.