Work is expected to start on a second Sydney airport at Badgerys Creek in 2016 after federal cabinet signed off on the site.
Planning and design work will begin immediately and the private sector will pick up the bulk of the cost.
The owner of Sydney’s Kingsford-Smith Airport, Southern Cross Airports Corporation, will be given the right of first refusal to run the new airport.
“It’s a long overdue decision which, to be honest, has been shirked and squibbed by successive governments for far too long,” Mr Abbott told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.
Badgerys Creek, 56km from Sydney’s CBD, was identified as a potential site in 1969 and a 1700ha site was bought by the federal government in the late 1980s.
Further announcements on roads funding will be made in “coming days”, Mr Abbott says.
While the initial construction phase is expected to generate about 4000 jobs, the airport development is expected to create 35,000 jobs by 2035, increasing to 60,000 jobs over time.
By 2060, the new airport has the potential to drive an increase in Australian gross domestic product of almost $24 billion.
Mr Abbott made it clear he wants to see a curfew-free airport, saying noise will not be as much of an issue as it is in Mascot.
“We are certainly not saying that there will be a curfew,” he said.
Western Sydney’s population is set to grow from two million to three million people during the next two decades.
The existing airport, which accounts for 40 per cent of the nation’s international arrivals and 50 per cent of international air freight, is at risk of reaching capacity.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten previously has spoken in favour of the Badgerys Creek site, but western Sydney MPs are concerned about congestion and noise coming from a 24-hour-a-day operation.
Congestion could be cut by including in the government’s planning a rail link from Badgerys Creek to the Sydney rail network, Tourism and Transport Forum chief Ken Morrison says.
The airport would be not only good for Sydney but the more than 540,000 Australians involved in the tourism industry, he said.