Sydney Airport

Sydney Airport from the air (with about half of its length out of the picture). The “third runway” is at upper right (also extending out of the picture into Botany Bay). T1 (the International Terminal) is at lower right, with the Freight Terminal to its left (bottom centre). The buildings on the left are (from left), the Qantas Jet Base (maintenance), T3 (Qantas domestic), and T2 (with 2 piers: Virgin and regional domestic flights)
Source:  Mathieumcguire.

Airport typePublic
OwnerLeased Commonwealth Airport
OperatorSydney Airport Corporation Limited
LocationMascot, New South Wales, Australia
Hub forQantas Regional Express Airlines Virgin Australia Jetstar Airways Tigerair Australia
Focus city forAir New Zealand
Elevation AMSL21 ft / 6 m
Coordinates33°56′46″S 151°10′38″ECoordinates: 33°56′46″S 151°10′38″E

Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport (colloquially Mascot AirportKingsford Smith Airport, or Sydney Airport; IATA: SYD, ICAO: YSSY; ASX: SYD) is an international airport in Sydney, Australia located 8 km (5 mi) south of the Sydney city centre, in the suburb of Mascot. The airport is owned by the ASX-listed Sydney Airport Group. It is the primary airport serving Sydney, and is a primary hub for Qantas, as well as a secondary hub for Virgin Australia and Jetstar Airways, as well as a focus city for Air New Zealand. Situated next to Botany Bay, the airport has three runways, colloquially known as the east–west, north–south and third runways.

Sydney Airport is one of the world’s longest continuously operated commercial airports and the busiest airport in Australia, handling 42.6 million passengers and 348,904 aircraft movements in 2016–17. It was the 38th busiest airport in the world in 2016. Currently 46 domestic and 43 international destinations are served to Sydney directly.

In 2018, the airport was rated in the top five worldwide for airports handling 40–50 million passengers annually and was overall voted the 20th best airport in the world at the Skytrax World Airport Awards.

The airport’s Air Traffic Control Tower is listed on the Commonwealth Heritage List.


In 2002, the Commonwealth Government sold Sydney Airports Corporation Limited (later renamed Sydney Airport Corporation Limited, SACL), the management authority for the airport, to Southern Cross Airports Corporation Holdings Ltd. 82.93 per cent of SACL is owned by MAp Airports International Limited, a subsidiary of Macquarie Bank, Sydney Airport Intervest GmbH own 12.11 per cent and Ontario Teachers’ Australia Trust own 4.96 per cent. SACL holds a 99-year lease on the airport which remains Crown land and as such is categorised as a Leased Federal Airport.

Since the international terminal’s original completion, it has undergone two large expansions. One such expansion is underway and will stretch over twenty years (2005–25). This will include an additional high-rise office block, the construction of a multi-level car park, the expansion of both international and domestic terminals. These expansions—and other plans and policies by Macquarie Bank for airport operations—are seen as controversial, as they are performed without the legal oversight of local councils, which usually act as the local planning authority for such developments. As of April 2006, some of the proposed development has been scaled back.

Sydney Airport’s International terminal underwent a $500 million renovation that was completed in mid-2010. The upgrade includes a new baggage system, an extra 7,300 m2 (78,577 sq ft) of space for shops and passenger waiting areas and other improvements.

In March 2010, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission released a report sharply critical of price gouging at Sydney airport, ranking it fifth out of five airports. The report noted Sydney Airport recorded the highest average prices at $13.63 per passenger, compared to the lowest of $7.96 at Melbourne Airport, while the price of short-term parking had almost doubled in the 2008–09 financial year, from $28 to $50 for four hours. The report also accused the airport of abusing its monopoly power.


In December 2011, Sydney Airport announced a proposal to divide the airport into two airline-alliance-based precincts; integrating international, domestic and regional services under the one roof by 2019. The current domestic Terminal 2 and Terminal 3 would be used by Qantas, Jetstar and members of the oneworld airline alliance while today’s international Terminal 1 would be used by Virgin Australia and its international partners. Other international airlines would continue to operate from T1.

In September 2012, Sydney Airport and MD CEO Kerrie Mather announced the airport had abandoned the proposal to create alliance-based terminals in favour of terminals “based around specific airline requirements and (passenger) transfer flows”. She stated the plan was to minimise the number of passengers transferring between terminals. In June 2013 the airport released a draft version of its 2013 Masterplan, which proposes operating domestic and international flights from the same terminals using ‘swing gates’, along with upgrading Terminal 3 (currently the Qantas domestic terminal) to accommodate the Airbus A380.

On 17 February 2014, the Australian Government approved Sydney Airport’s Master Plan 2033, which outlines the airport’s plans to cater for forecast demand of 74 million passengers in 2033. The plan includes Sydney Airport’s first ever integrated ground transport plan.

BA, VS & MH aircraft parked at the QF Jetbase in Sydney waiting for their afternoon flights.
Source: Sydney Airport


Airport map
Source: CellarDoor85

Sydney Airport has three passenger terminals. The International Terminal is separated from the other two by a runway; therefore, connecting passengers need to allow for longer transfer times.

Terminal 1

Terminal 1 was opened on 3 May 1970, replacing the old Overseas Passenger Terminal (which was located where Terminal 3 stands now) and has been greatly expanded since then. Today it is known as the International Terminal, located in the airport’s north western sector. It has 25 gates (thirteen in concourse B numbered 8–37, and twelve in concourse C numbered 50–63) served by aerobridges. Pier B is used by Qantas, all Oneworld members and all Skyteam members (except Delta). Pier C is used by Virgin Australia and its partners (including Delta) as well as all Star Alliance members. There are also a number of remote bays which are heavily utilised during peak periods and for parking of idle aircraft during the day.

Sydney Airport Terminal 1 (international terminal) shops
Source: Wpcpey

The terminal building is split into three levels, one each for arrivals, departures and airline offices. The departure level has 20 rows of check-in desks each with 10 single desks making a total of 200 check-in desks. The terminal hosts eight airline lounges: two for Qantas, and one each for Etihad Airways, Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines, Emirates, American Express and SkyTeam. The terminal underwent a major $500 million redevelopment that was completed in 2010, by which the shopping complex was expanded, outbound customs operations were centralised and the floor space of the terminal increased to 254,000 square metres (2,730,000 sq ft). Further renovations began in 2015 with a reconfiguration and decluttering of outbound and inbound duty-free areas, extension of the airside dining areas and installation of Australian Border Force outbound immigration SmartGates. These works were completed in 2016.

Terminal 2

Sydney Airport Virgin Australia Terminal 2
Source: Kgbo

Terminal 2, located in the airport’s north-eastern section, was the former home of Ansett Australia’s domestic operations. It features 16 parking bays served by aerobridges and several remote bays for regional aircraft. It serves FlyPelican, Jetstar, Regional Express Airlines, Tigerair Australia and Virgin Australia. There are lounges for Regional Express Airlines and Virgin Australia.

Terminal 3

Terminal 3 is a domestic terminal, serving Qantas with QantasLink flights having moved their operations from Terminal 2 to Terminal 3 on 16 August 2013. Originally, it was home for Trans Australia Airlines (later named Australian Airlines). Like Terminal 2 it is located in the north-eastern section.

Travelators at Sydney Airport Terminal 3
Source: Kgbo

The current terminal building is largely the result of extensions designed by Hassell that were completed in 1999. This included construction of a 60-metre roof span above a new column-free checkin hall and resulted in extending the terminal footprint to 80,000 square metres. There are 14 parking bays served by aerobridges, including two served by dual aerobridges. Terminal 3 features a large Qantas Club lounge, along with a dedicated Business Class and Chairmans lounge. Terminal 3 also has a ‘Heritage Collection’ located adjacent to gate 13, dedicated to Qantas and including many collections from the airline’s 90-plus years of service. It also has a view of the airport’s apron and is used commonly by plane-spotters.

Qantas sold its lease of Terminal 3, which was due to continue until 2019, back to Sydney Airport for $535 million. This means Sydney Airport resumes operational responsibility of the terminal, including the lucrative retail areas.

Freight Terminals

The airport is a major hub for freight transport to and from Australia handling approx. 45 percent of the national cargo traffic. Therefore, it is equipped with extensive freight facilities including seven dedicated cargo terminals operated by several handlers.

Airlines and destinations


Air CanadaToronto–Pearson, Vancouver
Air ChinaBeijing–Capital,Chengdu
Air IndiaDelhi
Air New ZealandAuckland, Christchurch, Norfolk Island, Queenstown, Rarotonga, Wellington
Air NiuginiPort Moresby
Air VanuatuPort Vila
AirAsia XKuala Lumpur–International
All Nippon AirwaysTokyo–Haneda
American AirlinesLos Angeles
Asiana AirlinesSeoul–Incheon
Beijing Capital AirlinesQingdao
British AirwaysLondon–Heathrow, Singapore
Cathay PacificHong Kong
Cebu PacificManila
China AirlinesTaipei–Taoyuan
China Eastern AirlinesBeijing–Capital, Kunming, Nanjing, Shanghai–Pudong, Wuhan, Xi’an
China Southern AirlinesGuangzhou, Shenzhen
Delta Air LinesLos Angeles
EmiratesChristchurch, Dubai–International
Etihad AirwaysAbu Dhabi
Fiji AirwaysNadi, Suva
Fly CorporateBrisbane, Inverell, Narrabri
FlyPelicanCobar, Mudgee, Taree
Garuda IndonesiaDenpasar, Jakarta–Soekarno-Hatta,
Hainan AirlinesChangsha, Haikou
Hawaiian AirlinesHonolulu
Japan AirlinesTokyo-Haneda
Jetstar AirwaysAdelaide, Auckland, Avalon, Ayers Rock, Ballina, Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin, Denpasar, Gold Coast, Hamilton Island, Hobart, Honolulu, Ho Chi Minh City, Launceston, Melbourne, Nadi, Perth, Phuket, Proserpine, Queenstown,  Sunshine Coast, Townsville
Korean AirSeoul–Incheon
LATAM ChileAuckland, Santiago de Chile
Malaysia AirlinesKuala Lumpur–International
Malindo AirDenpasar, Kuala Lumpur–International
Philippine AirlinesManila
QantasAdelaide, Alice Springs, Auckland, Bangkok–Suvarnabhumi, Brisbane, Cairns, Canberra, Christchurch, Dallas/Fort Worth, Darwin, Denpasar, Gold Coast, Hamilton Island, Hobart, Hong Kong, Honolulu, Jakarta–Soekarno-Hatta, Johannesburg–OR Tambo, Los Angeles, London–Heathrow, Manila, Melbourne, Nadi, Nouméa, Osaka–Kansai, Perth, Queenstown, San Francisco, Santiago de Chile, Shanghai–Pudong, Singapore, Tokyo–Haneda, Wellington
Seasonal: Broome, Sapporo–Chitose, Vancouver
QantasLinkAlbury, Armidale, Ballina, Bendigo, Canberra, Coffs Harbour, Dubbo, Gold Coast, Hamilton Island, Hobart, Lord Howe Island, Mildura, Moree, Orange Port Macquarie, Sunshine Coast, Tamworth, Toowoomba Wellcamp, Wagga Wagga
Qatar AirwaysDoha
Regional Express AirlinesAlbury, Armidale, Ballina, Bathurst, Broken Hill, Cooma, Dubbo, Grafton, Griffith, Lismore, Merimbula, Moruya, Narrandera,  Newcastle, Orange, Parkes, Wagga Wagga
Samoa AirwaysApia–Faleolo
Sichuan AirlinesChongqing, Ürümqi
Singapore AirlinesSingapore
Thai AirwaysBangkok–Suvarnabhumi
Tianjin AirlinesTianjin, Zhengzhou
Tigerair AustraliaBrisbane, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Perth
United AirlinesHouston–Intercontinental Los Angeles San Francisco
Vietnam AirlinesHanoi, Ho Chi Minh City
Virgin AustraliaAdelaide, Albury, Apia–Faleolo, Auckland, Ayers Rock, Ballina, Brisbane, Cairns, Canberra, Coffs Harbour, Darwin, Denpasar, Gold Coast, Hamilton Island, Hervey Bay, Hobart, Launceston, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Nadi, Nuku’alofa, Perth, Port Macquarie, Queenstown, Sunshine Coast, Tamworth, Townsville, Wellington


A McDonnell Douglas MD-11F of FedEx Express taxiing to the
cargo terminal at Sydney Airport; Terminal 3 is in the background
Source: Vismay Bhadra

A Boeing 747-400F, operated by Atlas Air on behalf
of Qantas Freight, on short finals for Sydney Airport
Source: Vismay Bhadra

Cathay Pacific CargoHong Kong, Melbourne
DHL AviationAuckland, Brisbane, Cairns, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, Honolulu, Melbourne, Nouméa
Emirates SkyCargoDubai–Al Maktoum, Hong Kong, Singapore
FedEx ExpressAuckland, Guangzhou, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Manila, Singapore
MASkargoDa Nang, Kuala Lumpur–International
Polar Air CargoHonolulu, Melbourne
Qantas FreightAuckland, Brisbane, Chicago–O’Hare, Chongqing, Christchurch, Hong Kong, Honolulu, Jakarta–Soekarno Hatta, Melbourne, Shanghai–Pudong
Singapore Airlines CargoAdelaide, Auckland, Melbourne, Singapore
Toll PriorityBrisbane, Melbourne
UPS AirlinesHonolulu, Seoul–Incheon, Shanghai–Pudong, Singapore
Virgin Australia CargoBrisbane, Cairns, Melbourne, Townsville

Second Sydney airport

The local, state and federal governments have investigated the viability of building a second major airport in Sydney since the 1940s. Significant passenger growth at Sydney Airport indicates the potential need for a second airport – for example, total passenger numbers increased from less than 10 million in 1985–86 to over 25 million in 2000–01, and over 40 million in 2015–16. This growth is expected to continue, with Sydney region passenger demand forecast to reach 87 million passengers by 2035.

On 15 April 2014, the Federal Government announced that Badgerys Creek would be Sydney’s second international airport, to be known as Western Sydney Airport. Press releases suggest that the airport will not be subject to curfews and will open in phases, initially with a single airport runway and terminal. It would be linked to Sydney Airport by local roads and motorways, and by extensions to the existing suburban rail network. In May 2017 the Federal Government announced it would build (pay for) the second Sydney Airport, after the Sydney Airport Group declined the Government’s offer to build the second airport.


Public transport

Domestic Airport Station on the Sydney Trains Airport & South Line
Source: MDRX

Domestic Airport Station on the Sydney Trains Airport & South Line

The airport is accessible via the Airport Link underground rail line. The International Airport railway station is located below the International terminal, while the Domestic Airport railway station is located under the car park between the domestic terminals (Terminal 2 and Terminal 3). While the stations are part of the Sydney Trains suburban network, they are privately owned and operated by the Airport Link consortium and their use is subject to a surcharge. The trains that service the airport are regular suburban trains. Unlike airport trains at some other airports, these do not have special provisions for customers with luggage, do not operate express to the airport and may have all seats occupied by commuters before the trains arrive at the airport.

State Transit operates route 400 from the airport to Bondi Junction railway station stopping at both the International and Domestic terminals and Mascot railway station. This route connects to the eastern suburbs while Transit Systems Sydney operates route 420 from Westfield Eastgardens to Burwood via both International and Domestic terminals, as well as Banksia and Rockdale railway stations.

You can walk to both the International and Domestic Airports to avoid the station surcharge. For the Domestic Airport alight at Mascot Railway Station it is 1.6km and takes around 20 minutes. For the International Airport you can walk from either Wolli Creek or Tempe Railway station. The walk from Wolli Creek is closest and is 1.8 km and takes less than 25 minutes.

Road access

Road exit from Terminal 1 towards the M5 motorway and Qantas Drive
Source: MDRX

Sydney Airport has road connections in all directions. Southern Cross Drive (M1), a motorway, is the fastest link with the city centre. The M5 South Western Motorway (including the M5 East Freeway) links the airport with the south-western suburbs of Sydney. A ring road runs around the airport consisting of Airport Drive, Qantas Drive, General Holmes Drive, M5 East Freeway and Marsh Street. General Holmes Drive features a tunnel under the main north-south runway and three taxiways as well as providing access to an aircraft viewing area. Inside the airport a part-ring road – Ross Smith Avenue (named after Ross MacPherson Smith) – connects the Domestic Terminal with the control tower, the general aviation area, car-rental company storage yards, long-term car park, heliport, various retail operations and a hotel. A perimeter road runs inside the secured area for authorised vehicles only.

The Airport runs several official car parks—Domestic Short Term, Domestic Remote Long Term, and International Short/Long Term.

The International Terminal is located beside a wide pedestrian and bicycle path. It links Mascot and Sydney City in the north-east with Tempe (via a foot bridge over Alexandra Canal) and Botany Bay to the south-west. All terminals offer bicycle racks and are also easily accessible by foot from nearby areas.

Accidents and incidents

Source: wikipedia