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Economic Impact

Issued: January 2013

Sydney Airport: A major employer and economic driver


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 acts as a major generator for a range of economic activity. Its close proximity only 8km from Sydney Central Business District also provides a unique advantage for business and tourism, major events and conference industries, over other state capitals. 

For example, Sydney Airport:

  • influences decisions by companies to locate their head offices in Sydney and improves their competitiveness
  • attracts new investment to the NSW and Sydney economy 
  • retains existing companies and secures their expansion projects
  • 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 and tourism-based incomes and creates new jobs.

Creating jobs and economic activity

A recent study by Deloitte Access Economics into the economic impact of Sydney Airport measured the airport’s economic and social benefits. Sydney Airport generates or facilitates:

  • Jobs. Direct and indirect employment of 283,700 jobs (equivalent to 8 per cent of NSW employment), including 160,000 direct jobs – average wages for airport workers are about 13 per cent higher than the NSW average 
  • Economic activity. Direct and indirect economic contribution of $27.6 billion (equivalent to 6 per cent of the NSW economy and 2 per cent of the Australian economy) 
  • Household income. Direct and indirect contribution of $13.2 billion 
  • Taxes. Direct and indirect taxes, including: 
    • Substantial income tax and GST revenues to the Australian Government
    • Substantial payroll taxes to the NSW Government
    • Annual contributions, in lieu of rates, to the City of Botany Bay, Rockdale City and Marrickville Councils.

It is forecast that the economic activity generated or facilitated by Sydney Airport will increase from $27.6 billion in 2012 to over $42 billion in 2033. 

Total employment will increase from 283,700 jobs in 2012 to over 400,000 by 2033. A relatively small activity at the airport can have a potentially large positive economic impact. For example, an additional daily A380 service to Sydney from China would, over a year, contribute an estimated: 

  • $388 million to the Australian economy 
  • $233 million to Australia’s household income 
  • 5,000 jobs (4,000 of which would be in NSW).

Supporting tourism

Chinese New Year celebrations at T1

Sydney Airport has an unmatched route network which includes 46 international, 23 domestic and 26 regional destinations. 

Sydney’s status as Australia’s only global city, in turn, 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 the Sydney and NSW tourism industry. 

Sydney Airport partners with Destination NSW to actively work to boost tourism, attract new airlines and increase airline services to Sydney, in support of the NSW Government’s target to double overnight visitor expenditure by 2020. Sydney Airport and Tourism Australia are also working together to promote tourism to Australia. 

Air freight

Air freight is a vital economic activity that contributes significantly to global business and to the NSW and Australian economies. It is a critical component of the airline industry, part of a value chain that includes airports, related trucking and logistics services, manufacturing and consumer operations and other support industries. Sydney Airport is Australia’s largest international and domestic air freight hub. In 2011, Sydney Airport handled around 530,000 tonnes of air freight (of which almost 400,000 tonnes was international air freight), which was 52 per cent more than Australia’s second largest air freight hub, Melbourne Airport. It is estimated that around 80 per cent of air freight is carried in passenger aircraft, making it vitally important to the economics of our airlines’ passenger services. The volume of freight handled by Sydney Airport is projected to double over the period to 2033 to over one million tonnes.