back to all news

Photos, video: Sydney Airport's domestic & international overhaul

By David Flynn     Filed under: qantas, OneWorld, Sydney Airport, star alliance, Sydney International Airport, Sydney Domestic Airport, Virgin Australia

A major overhaul of Sydney Airport would see Australia's busiest airport transformed into two 'airline alliance-based precincts' for Qantas and Virgin Australia, with international, domestic and regional services operating under one roof.

The scheme, revealed today by the privately-held Sydney Airport Corporation, would allocate the current domestic Terminal 2 and Terminal 3 exclusively to Qantas, Jetstar and members of the oneworld alliance, with one terminal for domestic flights and the other for international services.

On the other side of the runway, today's international Terminal 1 would become the new home for Virgin Australia and its growing roster of international partners including Etihad, Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines and Delta.

Other international airlines would continue to operate from T1, although they would likely be clustered around their own group of gates.

The change would reduce the time and hassle involved in transit between international and domestic services.

To help give you an idea of the scale of this project, here's how Sydney Airport currently works (or, as some might say, doesn't work).

There are seperate international and domestic terminals, with transfers between the two done via shuttle bus – a free 'scenic ride' around the perimeter of the tarmac if you're with Qantas, or a paid trundle via public roads for connecting to other domestic airlines.

Also makes above is the 'Qantas Jet Base' hangar facility, directly below the domestic terminals.

Now here's how Sydney Airport would like things to look, circa 2019, if this massive makeover gets the green light.

We're now looking back towards Sydney, from the other side of the photo shown above.

Virgin Australia's domestic and regional flights would operate from one arm of what is today the international terminal (T1).

Adjacent to this would be all international flights by Virgin Australia and its partners...

... while international airlines not affiliated with Virgin (or Qantas) would be located further down T1.

And here's the new home for Qantas and friends. Under the plan, T2 and T3 become a single mega-terminal for all domestic and regional flights by Qantas, Jetstar and QantasLink.

Some international flights by Qantas and its oneworld partners also appear ear-marked for this terminal, if the image below is any guide.

There'll also be a second international wing built where the Qantas Jet base stands today.

Sydney Airport believes the proposal can become reality by 2019. Here's a video prepared by the airport (and from which we grabbed the images above) to show how the new airport will look.


About David Flynn

David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


Have something to say? Post a comment now!

1 on 5/12/11 by John

Great news! But someone needs to put the "clone" tool down in whatever CAD program that is. (And maybe have another think about the types of aircraft they insert into the model...)

2 on 5/12/11 by Al

This would be excellent, no more painful transit between T1 and T2/T3. And the space occuipied by the Qantas International First Lounge at T1 would make a great Virgin Clubhouse!

3 on 5/12/11 by here2go

Wouldn't it be cheaper and less painful to put a monorail between the two terminals?  The disruption to passengers and airlines with such a scheme until completed would be monsterous!  Meanwhile, Sydney Airport is still charging some of the highest airport fees in the world!

1 on 5/12/11 by chrisjrn

Depends on what you mean by 'cheaper' and 'less painful'.  I'd have thought that once the project is finished this'd be less painful than any option involving keeping the separate domestic/international precincts.

And as for your suggestion of a monorail, because the two precincts at SYD are separated by the main runway, there's not really any way to make above-ground tranport work in Sydney any more than it does at the moment.

Could it be done without disruption? Probably not entirely, but there are still plenty of cases which have seen airlines get moved between terminals at other airports, and they haven't massively failed becuase of it.

4 on 5/12/11 by am

Interesting concept... It's a shame that the cgi images look so generic though. Is it also just my eyes deceiving me, or is there an additional pier off the existing T2, sticking out toward the control tower? And if they're serious about this then they're going to have a lot of work to do (Ie JQ area of T2 is not at QF standard) - I would have thought a brand new QF/JQ terminal would be the better solution, rather than the complicated maze which that building is promising to be.

5 on 5/12/11 by Mitch

THE RIGHT FUTURE. STARTING NOW - YouTube - a video of the new Sydney Airport.

6 on 5/12/11 by toby777

There also going to have to accomdate for the a380 at the domestic terminal if the plan is going to go ahead

1 on 5/12/11 by chrisjrn

There are already gates in T3 that can handle the A380; Qantas have already run a domestic MEL-SYD service on an A380 this year.

1 on 5/12/11 by am

Part of the plan is an extension to T3, across into the space currently used by the Qantas Maintenance base (which relocates to beneath the control tower). These gates would be A380 capable gates, not the existing domestic gates. And that SYD-MEL A380 flight was boarded from a remote stand with pax bussed out (same as the single VA 77W SYD-MEL flight). An A380 at the domestic terminal would close at least 3 gates due to its wingspan and the configuration of the gates.

7 on 5/12/11 by Noob

So Qantas/partners get double the gates of Virgin/partners when Virgin and its partners currently have slightly more market share in and out of Australia? How does that work? There would need to be a significant expansion of Terminal 1 also for this to work. 

1 on 5/12/11 by am

International competitors fly 1000 seats in 2 A380s, using 2 gates. QF flies 1000 pax in 6 737s, using 6 gates. And I don't think T1 would need to be bigger - by the time you shrink a pile of gates to 737 size, and get rid of all QF, BA, CX, LA, FJ, JL, JQ etc operations. T1 is already larger than T2 and T3 combined.

1 on 5/12/11 by Noob

In the video I counted 8 gates alloted to Virgin Australia regional/domestic...

1 on 5/12/11 by toby777

It just a video... i am sure they will have more than whats shown

2 on 5/12/11 by am

I count 12 VA gates altogether. Remember that the 3 gates shown with 77W's will probably have the capacity to be domestic gates for most of the day (VA only has 10 weekly long haul flights from SYD). I believe VA currently has 9-10 domestic gates. Also remember that VA planes will use that entire end of the terminal (including where the SQ/EY planes are parked), so that adds flexibility and space where needed.

1 on 5/12/11 by chrisjrn

You'd think that unless there was a very substantial change in law, there'd still be 'domestic' and 'international' sections of each terminal -- part of T1 would be past customs/immigration, and they'd have to be gates for international planes.

It might be possible to do something like they've done in Wellington: some international gates have both a customs-cleared entrance and a non-cleared entrance, but that wouldn't make much sense for the entire terminal.

1 on 6/12/11 by here2go

Adelaide Airport has a funky setup where a number of gates can be either Domestic or International by means of glass partitions, so there is precedent in Australia.  However, Adelaide Airport's terminal was built from scratch with this in mind.  Will be interesting to see how Sydney achieves.  Let's sit back and watch!

1 on 6/12/11 by kevrosmith

They're called Swing gates as they can swing between Int and Dom operations. Gold Coast has swing gates also and CNS has considered them during various terminal utilisation studies for combined Dom/Int operations too.

8 on 6/12/11 by Brolair

Little or no mention of the impact on air navigation and air taffic control infrastructure.  Likely impact: NAVAIDS, air and surface surveillance infrastructure will need to be relocated. Additional surface surveillance infrastructure will be needed and a new air traffic control tower will have to be built.

9 on 11/12/11 by kel0210

I always wondered why they don't built a "people-mover" underground between the two terminals like they have at HKG or SIN. They are fast, driverless, and frequent (a train every 2-5 mins).

10 on 16/1/12 by AirportAddict

If they say it will be finished by 2019, when is the work going to start?

11 on 5/3/12 by Kiwiroo

"Sydney Airport Corporation, would allocate the current domestic Terminal 2 and Terminal 3 exclusively to Qantas, Jetstar and members of the oneworld alliance, with one terminal for domestic flights and the other for international services."

Is there a plan already which terminal would be allocated for the Domestic and which one for the Internation flights?


Related News Items


Australian business traveller newsletter

Get Updates as they happen, tailored to your preferences, right in your inbox


What topics interest you?