Australia set to green light second Sydney airport: reports

SYDNEY (AFP) - The Australian government was Tuesday expected to give the go-ahead to build a second international airport for Sydney, reports said, ending decades of indecision in a bid to boost the economy.

Sydney's Kingsford Smith Airport is the main gateway into Australia but suffers from capacity limits, with a former transport minister describing it as "built in an age when planes were small and few".

Prime Minister Tony Abbott's cabinet would name Badgerys Creek, in western Sydney, as the site for the city's second airport later Tuesday, the reports said.

"The senior ministers who matter have come to a decision on the site, making cabinet's tick-off all but a foregone conclusion," The Sydney Morning Herald said in a front-page story.

Abbott swept to power in elections last September vowing to be known as an "infrastructure prime minister", with the site of the second airport high on his first-term priorities.

Badgerys Creek, about 45 kilometres (28 miles) west of Sydney's central business district, has long been proposed as a second airport site but has always been shelved due to fears of a local voter backlash.

David Borger, who heads the Western Sydney Airport Alliance, said he believed residents would support the project which promises thousands of jobs, as well as rail and road upgrades.

"It is long overdue because an airport has been identified for this site for at least 30 years," he told the ABC. "The land was acquired by the Hawke government in the '80s."

However, some residents are still expected to disagree with the plan, with Stephen Bali from the No Badgerys Creek Airport Inc telling the ABC "large segments across western Sydney will be fighting against this".

The previous Labor government had also argued for a second Sydney airport, with former transport minister Anthony Albanese saying the current airport's capacity limits had been hurting the national economy.

Kingsford Smith Airport, which is only eight kilometres from the city centre, handled 36.9 million travellers in 2012 and passenger numbers are forecast to increase to 74.3 million by 2033.

The airport is also subject to an 11pm-6am curfew, but reports have suggested that Badgerys Creek would not operate under such restrictions.

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