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Sydney to get long-awaited second international airport

Following decades of fruitless debates, the government of Australia has given the green light for the building of a second international airport in Sydney. It said the hub would be operational in about a decade.

The government in Canberra on Tuesday threw its weight behind a decades-old project envisaging the construction of a second international airport in Sydney.

It said building work was soon to recommence 22 years after ground was first broken at Badgerys Creek some 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the center of Australia's biggest city.

Deliberations on a second airport there began in 1946. In 1986, land was acquired by the federal government, but initial work was soon stopped.

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"It's a long overdue decision which to be honest has been shirked and squibbed by successive governments for far too long," Prime Minister Tony Abbott said, mentioning that building work could now start in 2016, with the airport scheduled to become operational in 2025.

Qantas Airlines welcomed the decision, saying that after so many decades of debate, it applauded the announcement wholeheartedly.

Sydney's existing Kingsford Smith Airport has been Australia's most important aviation hub, but its capacities have not been big enough to meet growing travel demands. However, building a second airport had been postponed time and again as policy-makers feared protests by local residents.

The new hub was reported to cost around 2.5 billion Australian dollars (1.7 billion euros, $2.35 billion) to be raised primarily by the private sector.

hg/mz (dpa, AFP)

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