Construction of a passenger terminal at Sydney’s new $5.3 billion international airport is expected to start by the end of next year after several large contractors were shortlisted for the work.

The federal government has also released further concept designs for Western Sydney Airport’s terminal at Badgerys Creek, which is about 50 kilometres west of Sydney’s CBD.

Western Sydney Airport, a wholly government-owned company, declined to put an estimate on the cost of building the terminal, arguing it would compromise competitive tender processes. The terminal is, however, included in the overall $5.3 billion cost estimate for the airport.

The airport company has shortlisted Multiplex, Watpac and a Lendlease-CPB Contractors joint venture to tender for construction of the terminal. Its design will be finalised when the winning contractor is appointed in the middle of next year.

The terminal will include a public plaza, shops, restaurants and cafes, and will be connected to the local transport network by the $1.8 billion M12 motorway – construction of which is due to start in 2022 – and a metro rail line to St Mary’s via two new stations at Luddenham and Orchard Hills.

Major construction of the $8 billion Western Sydney Airport metro line is scheduled to start next year, allowing for the rail link to be operational in time for the airport’s opening in 2026.

The terminal is expected to be completed by 2025, the same time as the runway is finished, allowing for about a year to bed down operations before the first passengers pass through its gates.

Federal Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure Minister Alan Tudge said the airport’s construction would support 11,000 direct and indirect jobs in western Sydney, and it was important that work on the 1780-hectare site had continued despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Aviation and tourism have been among the industries hardest hit by the pandemic, resulting in Qantas and Virgin Australia sacking thousands of staff.

Mr Tudge said the airport’s opening was still six years away, by which time most expected a full economic recovery. “The airport is being built not just for 2026 but for the next century,” he said.

Western Sydney Airport chief executive Simon Hickey said experts had forecast global air traffic to recover from the impacts of COVID-19 well before the airport would open at the end of 2026.

“It’s more important than ever that nation-building projects such as [the new airport] continue to create jobs and drive local investment,” said Mr Hickey, who is a former senior Qantas executive.

London’s Zaha Hadid Architects and Sydney’s Cox Architecture are designing the terminal, which will feature timber ceilings and vertical gardens.

So far, excavators and other equipment have moved a fifth of the 25 million cubic metres of the earth that needs to be shifted to allow for the terminal, runway, roads and rail link to be built.