Jetting direct to Asia, the Middle East, and the Pacific from Newcastle is on the horizon, but will depend on commitments from big carriers as its new international terminal rises at its Williamtown base at the end of 2024.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was among the contingent turning the first sod of the $110 million (US$72 million) Newcastle Airport International Terminal yesterday.
“Novocastrians are great travellers, and it will provide an opportunity for them to travel to other parts of Australia and to the world,” he said.
Albanese said the pre-existing airport was a “fantastic asset” that had not yet been used to its full potential, and pitched $55 million (US$36 million) in federal funding to help deliver the terminal.
“This $55 million (US$36 million) investment is a vote of confidence in Newcastle and the Hunter, and this region,” he said.
“In this region we can be the powerhouse of new energy, we can be the powerhouse of advanced manufacturing, we can as well be a powerhouse of tourism.”
The rest of the terminal expansion, which will cost around $110 million (US$72 million), has been funded by loans and the New South Wales government.
The airport said it was “working on” developing connections to global tourist hotspots in Asia, the Middle East, and the Pacific, but nothing is set in stone yet.
The success of the connections will depend on whether Australian and international carriers commit to delivering them once the terminal is operational.
The airport was backing the plans heavily for the Prime Minister’s visit, with a map of planned international destinations on display.
“We know the demand is here, both going out and coming into the country,” said Newcastle Airport spokesperson Bucak Sezer.
“With some airlines we’re talking about direct destinations that we’ll be launching soon. But no firm announcement just yet.”
Domestic routes are also set to be expanded with connections to fly-in, fly-out mining hotspots and capital cities like Darwin and Perth.
Board chair of Newcastle Airport, Jude Monroe, said the expansion would be an important part of an aero precinct in the Hunter.
“Once it’s all completed, and we’ve got the defence industries operating out of Astra Aero Lab, adjacent to the airport, the benefits of that we believe will be $13 billion (US$8.6 billion) to the economy over the next twenty years,” she said.
She said the expanded airport would not aim to directly compete with Sydney, but would enhance Newcastle as NSW’s second city.
“The second cities are incredibly important. The Gold Coast to Brisbane, Newcastle to Sydney, Geelong to Melbourne too,” Monroe said.
“It means the transport connection will be enhanced. It enables better networking of cities in a global sense.”
Federal Member for Paterson, Meryl Swanson, said the airport had come a long way from being a “tin shed” that opened soon after the Second World War.
“We are growing the airport this region deserves,” she said.
“I hope the more than 4,500 really high-level jobs that come from this piece of infrastructure will generate so much good fortune, not only for the people of our region, but for the nation.” The terminal’s construction is due to be completed in late 2024.