Virgin Australia CEO slams Sydney Airport as "third world"

By David Flynn, November 4 2013

Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti has slammed Sydney Airport for having "third world" facilities and proposed a light-rail 'people mover' system similar to Singapore's Changi Airport to whisk passengers between terminals.

The call puts Virgin at odds with Sydney Airport's plan to relocate airlines in alliance-based terminals with domestic and international services operating from the same terminal.

This would reportedly see Qantas, Emirates and oneworld airlines such as BA and Cathay Pacific located in today's T3. Virgin Australia, Air New Zealand, Etihad Airways and Singapore Airlines would be grouped together in T1, which is currently the  international terminal.

But Borghetti has criticised the plan as a multi-billion dollar extravagance which would still leave Sydney Airport with several terminals without a modern way to help passengers transfer between them.

"We are still going to have separate terminals [if the airport proceeds with its plans], and irrespective of who is in them, we haven't solved the transfer issue between those two terminals" Borghetti said, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

"The current facilities are Third World - and that means cab, bus or train," he said, adding that the existing rail link between the international and domestic terminals is "difficult to find, difficult to get to and in a different league … to lots of airports in Asia."

An example with which most Australians would be familiar is the automated train running above ground between the three terminals at Singapore's Changi Airport, while many other major airports in Asia, Europe and the USA have similar systems.

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David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Sydney airport is a disgrace. Its a filthy and unappealing place to transit through.  It is well below the standards of other major airports around the world.  Desperately need to spend some money on doing it up.  Add Brisbane Domestic airport to that list!  Filthy, disorganised, cramped.  Brisbane International on the other hand is excellent.

12 Jun 2013

Total posts 744

SYD isn't my favourite airport, and inter-terminal transfer is certainly a big problem, but I don't know where other people are getting this "filthy" thing from. Are there big piles of garbage somewhere that I've never noticed? It seems up to normal standards of airport cleanliness to me.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 May 2013

Total posts 33

It's not filthy and in fact one of the easier airports to get through when departing from T1. Filthy just sounds good to many people

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2012

Total posts 140

This is funny!  I've been travelling through Sydney Airport for 20+ years and I didn't even realize there was a rail system linking the terminals.  I must agree, Sydney, like Perth, is a truely horrible airport.

12 Jun 2013

Total posts 744

Well, twenty years ago there wasn't. 

You know there's a train to the city though, right? Well, you can catch that train from one terminal to another for the low low price of [something ridiculous].

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2221

Five dollars, Hugo.

You can also cheat by using the State Transit bus 400, for the princely sum of $2.20. Unfortunately, because it's just a short section of an extremely long and convoluted route passing through much of Sydney's mid-rim suburbia, it has an on-time reliability similar to that of the airport in question.

CL9
CL9

22 Mar 2012

Total posts 200

Yes, five dollars for the special transfer but a truly ridiculous $15.90 to central, or even just to one station along from T1, Wolli Creek. Truly ridiculous.

I would recommend to anyone travelling from anywhere on the network going to the airport who wants to travel by train, avoid the $12.30 station fee and catch, as you said, the 400 bus, and if you don't live near that route, simply get off at Mascot station, avoid the fee and catch the bus from there! :)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2221

If you have a valid ticket for travel through (but not to) the airport stations(e.g. a weekly MyMulti), you can always purchase the $5 transfer, and then "transfer" to the other ticket once you hit Mascot or Wolli Creek.

The 400 bus works well if you live in the South Eastern Suburbs or in the St George area. It's very slow from the City, requiring a change at Rockdale (Illawarra) for International or Mascot (Airport & East Hills) for Domestic.

CL9
CL9

22 Mar 2012

Total posts 200

You can't buy or use the $5 transfer from Mascot or Wolli Creek, in fact any station other than Domestic and International airport- so if I understand what you are saying correctly, it isn't possible to do that.

I have caught the bus from Mascot many times and it has always been relatively efficent and on time- I don't know how it is from other areas.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2221

You can only pull that trick on arrival. You cannot use it for departure.

The bus from Mascot is alright, as long as you don't attempt it on a Sunday evening.

12 Jun 2013

Total posts 744

There's also the twenty-minute walk from Mascot station to the domestic terminal, if it's not raining and you don't have too much luggage.

Or forget it all and catch a darn cab. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2221

That only works on departure. If you do it on arrival the taxi driver will strangle you.

02 Sep 2013

Total posts 12

Considering how woilli creek is not a gated station, use that $5 thing to head to woilli creek station, and then get another ticket from woilli creek to whatever station your going to....

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2221

Assuming it's gated.

CL9
CL9

22 Mar 2012

Total posts 200

Yeah, I'm pretty sure Wolli Creek is gated as it is an interchange so I doubt this trick is possible. $15.90 for everyone! :(

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2221

I will check Wolli when I'm next down in the St George area, but I'm pretty sure it isn't a gated station.

If you have an early-morning flight, though, the other hack is to make sure you arrive at Domestic or International stations before 0530 (and for the record there are trains every morning before 0530), because that is the time when the gates close and the gate fee comes into effect; before 0530, the gates are open and you can walk through quite freely.

It's a grey area, though, given that it's borderline fare evasion.

CL9
CL9

22 Mar 2012

Total posts 200

hahaha that would be great but yeah that's fare evasion- not paying full fare and instead just walking through gates. lol

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2221

It's a way. It might not be the ideal way, but it's a way and there are people who use it. I personally pay the weekly fee and combine my travel and planespotting as much as possible :P

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 May 2013

Total posts 33

$17.20 one way to Sutherland on Wednesday morning from a SIN-SYD flight! Sutherland -City return is $10.40 at peak times. Someone is making dough somewhere

Be nice to your wife and she will drop you off.....

CL9
CL9

22 Mar 2012

Total posts 200

I know how it feels, and those pesky private owners of AirportLink must be making a killing, although I have heard that patronage on these airport stations is descreasing. Clearly the public are fed up!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Aug 2012

Total posts 126

You are 100% correct DB.

Sydney Airport is an embarrassment for all the world visitors to see!

It's unforunate that after flying to other 'world cities' and world class airports, that you come back to Australia to an airport that is horrible to look at, from both inside and out, with a lack of suitable, and AFFORDABLE transport options (particular) for transferring to domestic terminals.

Sydney Airport are happy to collect all the expensive airport and parking fees from airlines and other operators. How about they put some suitable infrastructure and resources back into the airport. I would have expected the federal government may have required this in their lease to Sydney AIrport, but maybe I'm wrong. 

12 Jun 2013

Total posts 744

They should have bought the Sydney Monorail and stuck it down there. Win win! 

Oh well, anyway, an airside inter-terminal light rail is a fantastic idea for SYD, but I wonder where it would go. The shortest route goes right under the runway, but I don't know what the practicalities would be of trying to tunnel under a working runway/tarmac. Otherwise you can go around the north end of the runway along the boundary fence of the airport, but it's a pretty roundabout route -- probably just as long as the outside road by the time you've avoided anything that you're gonna need to drive a plane over/under.

Crazy alternative plan: direct A to B electric bus running directly across the taxiways and runways, synchronised with air traffic control so that planes can avoid it and vice versa. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2221

Well, the existing AirportLink tunnel goes under the tarmac, so I see no reason why BorghettiLink can't do the same. Won't be cheap, though. 

Or they could run a better conventional bus services, keeping up with the Joneses...

12 Jun 2013

Total posts 744

Sure, it's possible to dig under the runway but you need to go deep, which is expensive and makes it less convenient. 

A cut-and-cover tunnel would be better, but would necessitate too many closures.

I think the practical solution is the annoying long distance route. On a dedicated line there's no reason the light rail couldn't do it at 60 km/h+ so it'd still only be a five-minute journey so it's not too bad. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Oct 2013

Total posts 93

I've seen a variation of your proposal at IAD - an electric bus on tracks whisks passengers from terminal to terminal, alebit it is manned. Works reasonably well and the whole manned bus thing solves the issue of crossing the tarmac.

I'd personally would like to see that implementation in SYD, unlike the good intentioned but quite unrealistic suggestion made by Borghetti.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Sep 2011

Total posts 182

I agree with this article wholeheartedly.  Last time I had to transfer from international to domestic, there were no trains running due to maintenance, the Qantas transfer bus waiting area was solid so I got the normal inter-terminal bus.  Massive queues again.  It is a disgrace that a country as rich as ours has these diabolical airports.  

Also, Perth international is a national disgrace and national embarrassment both departing and arriving.  We need improvements with transport links and inter-terminal links, better border control staff and more of them, updated arrivals halls.  Australian airport are rapidly becoming a laughing stock.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2221

"Australian airport are rapidly becoming a laughing stock."

Aren't we already?

26 May 2012

Total posts 150

The Sydney terminal transfer bus; ducking under 747 wingtips and running abeam A380s will always be superior to a sterile train in my humble, avgeek view. 

But not so good for efficiency... 

11 Mar 2012

Total posts 294

True re avgeek view of the world, but the waiting areas for the bus are awful.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2221

It's nice being overflown - I enjoy it, I really do - but it's not exactly a selling point when the ride round the back via Airport Drive takes absolutely forever.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

04 Sep 2012

Total posts 136

I live in New Zealand and dont really travel to Australia. However i flew in on a VA/NZ codeshare flight then on a QF to tamworth. i had to change terminam and i was so confused! I couldnt believe i had to go on a metro train! Also the check in areas and everything are just rows and rows of sterile desks. The so called "express-path" is not that express. I think Sydney is a very lovely city - but the airport needs a clean up!

03 Jan 2013

Total posts 47

Making the existing cityrail train a free transfer between the 2 terminals for holders of valid boarding passes would help somewhat.....

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Sep 2011

Total posts 182

Have them running and clearly sign posted would also be a help.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2221

Trackwork will still screw you over, and often they're not all that frequent.

22 Jul 2011

Total posts 98

I've personally always enjoyed the QF transfers between the two terminals - never had to wait long, nice view of activity on the tarmac, clean and efficient service, nice gate lounges. In contrast the Virgin tfr experience is not nearly as polished. As for other airlines, the prospect of having to use the generally full train service - would be a big turn off

19 Jul 2012

Total posts 15

Speaking of third world, how's that website working for you Mr B?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Oct 2013

Total posts 93

It's always interesting to have a stopover in BNE Intl and then finally arriving in SYD T1... and by interesting I mean completely discouraging as only overpriced parking, ridiculously crowded late and expensive trains, or even more expensive and completely incompetent taxis await for you at arrival.

Ladies and gentlemen, the epitome of privatisation. Macquarie execs, if you're reading this, I spit when I see your credit card ads because if SACL/MAp can't even competently run an airport, how can I trust you with my finances?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Dec 2012

Total posts 10

Here, here, and so say ALL of US

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Mar 2013

Total posts 66

We'll said, the benefits of privatisation, Funny how BNE is making Hugh profits yet is happy to allow constant delays as a way of trying to harness public support for the airlines to fund the enhancements that will gain the corporation even more profits which also depart our shores to those of their European masters. I wonder if poor Joh ever envisaged that? All Fed governments lack the backbone and forsight to push ahead with new airports.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1137

SYD is a disgrace, particularly for an airport in a developed country. 

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

22 Jun 2012

Total posts 2

Sydney airport is simply outdated. The current situation is a result of the operators not wanting to invest in making the airport a world class facility. All the complaining in the world doesn't help as the "owners" who operate the airport are more concerned with their financial bottom line rather than putting Sydney in the forefront of the aviation industry. Perhaps the government should step in & insist that the operators spend some of their profits on making the airport more user friendly, particularly for those having to change terminals to connect. Till then - Sydney airport is a true disgrace. 

09 Sep 2012

Total posts 140

Poor old Sydney John; distressed by the only airport he really cares about.

03 Jan 2013

Total posts 47

I live in Canberra and often choose to fly thru Melbourne - no curfew and no transit issues.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2221

MEL may be better laid-out but even compared to SYD it's a dump.

08 Feb 2014

Total posts 1

I wonder how many people commenting here actually use Sydney airport regularly, I travel on business every 1-2 weeks Using T1 or T3 (never use T2 so cant comment on that) I dont find T1 ot T3 even remotely like a Third World country  - Have you actually been to a third world country???

T1 and 3 have some of the best lounges in the word, Express path is wonderfull and 99% of the time effective, plus since the refurbishment and additional eGates at immigration in T1 there has been much improvement.

Having recently flew DFW-BNE-SYD I think BNE internaltional has much more to worry about that SYD! Its the pits.

It is perfect - No, Is there room for improvement - Yes and Agree transitting SYD is a pain, and must be improved

 

CL9
CL9

22 Mar 2012

Total posts 200

Yeah, my only gripe about Sydney is just simply the appalling transport options.

CL9
CL9

22 Mar 2012

Total posts 200

*Sydney Airport

JAF
JAF

08 Jan 2014

Total posts 5

I will use BNE international over Sydney everytime simply due to the fact it has a smoking area after customs. 

CL9
CL9

22 Mar 2012

Total posts 200

On the Sydney Airport website it says there is only one smoking area, before customs, at the outdoor deck at the terrace bar. https://www.sydneyairport.com.au/prepare/faqs.aspx

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

06 Feb 2014

Total posts 15

Another reason to be glad I live in Adelaide :)


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