The Federal Government is providing $66 million to upgrade the Newcastle Airport runway, which is expected to generate thousands of local jobs and create new travel and export destinations for the region.
The runway will be widened to accommodate longer range domestic and international passenger services as well as significantly increased large freight capabilities to benefit local exporters. This will maximise the benefits of works already completed on the terminal to upgrade international arrivals and departures processing.
Newcastle Airport estimates these improvements could create around 4,400 full-time jobs, deliver an additional 850,000 visitors to the region and add $12.7 billion to the local economy over the next 20 years.
Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, said the airport investment was a game changer and would provide significant economic benefits for the Hunter and Central Coast community.
“This investment demonstrates our commitment to the Hunter economy, its workers and businesses and will deliver a jobs boom for the whole region,” the Prime Minister said.
“This investment will also deliver hundreds of thousands of extra tourists to the region, spending money in local businesses, while exporters in the region will be able to access increased freight flights into new international markets.
“This funding leverages our significant defence investments at RAAF Base Williamtown, not only creating local economic benefits but also making it easier for the entire local community to travel domestically, and once open again, to travel internationally to many new locations.”
The upgrades to Code E status would mean larger aircraft like Boeing 777s and Airbus 330s could land in Newcastle, with twice daily international flights expected alongside increased daily direct domestic flights.
The work will be done alongside RAAF’s scheduled runway maintenance at the Williamtown base.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack, said the Federal Government was committed to the aviation sector and maintaining Australia’s aviation infrastructure, as part of its ongoing support to ensure the sector recovers and thrives.
“This is another example of the government backing our aviation industry, including airports, to support planes in the air and jobs on the ground,” Mr McCormack said.
“This has included close to $3 million in support to Newcastle Airport to assist with security screening costs, supporting half-price flights to the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast through Qantas and FlyPelican and funding to maintain essential flights to and from the airport through the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This has ensured activity is sustained at the airport and today’s announcement continues to back in this support to drive the economy and to maintain jobs for the Hunter region.”
The Department of Defence will ensure local businesses are contracted through a Local Industry Capability Plan.
Minister for Defence, Peter Dutton, said the Federal Government is committed to position Defence to increase strategic competition, now and into the future.
“The upgraded lighting and runway will ensure the airfield remains in line with modern industry aviation standards,” Mr Dutton said.
“This is critically important to support the operation of fifth generation aircraft into the future.
“The improved drainage will allow the Australian Defence Force to support operations through heavy weather events, such as seen in NSW with the recent floods.”
Member for Lyne, Dr David Gillespie, said this was a great initiative that would lift the capability of Williamtown RAAF Base and open up new international markets for tourism and trade, boosting the region’s economy.
“Our tourism operators know what an amazing asset the airport is and as we reopen flights within Australia and later to the world the Hunter and Mid North Coast are all set to benefit,” Dr Gillespie said.
“This project will reduce cost and travel times for air-freight movements benefitting our primary producers and attract more Corporate, Defence and Aerospace to the Hunter.”
Pending parliamentary approvals, construction is expected to in late-2021 and be completed in 2023.