Newcastle Airport will double its existing terminal under an $80 million expansion program that it hopes will encourage more domestic and international services. The airport, which is owned by local councils Port Stephens and Newcastle City, has received strong backing from the NSW government both in funding towards new developments and through policy support for the airport to expand its domestic and international reach, and act as a relief valve for Sydney Airport.
The phased development of facilities will see in its initial stage changes to the existing layout of the terminal, incorporating a swing gate to allow “domestic flights one day and international the next”. It will also include expansion of the arrivals area and “infrastructure appropriate for international arrivals and departures, such as customs and quarantine rooms”.
Recent approval of a $11.1 million grant from the NSW government will enable the first phase of expansion to begin.
At the completion of phase one, assessments will be made as to when the next stage will begin. The redevelopment will allow the Airport to seek services to other international destinations, such as New Zealand, for which there is significant demand.
When completed, Newcastle Airport will have capacity to increase domestic passenger flow from the current 1.2 million to a potential five million annually, as well as provide permanent infrastructure to allow for international flights.
However, the department of defence, from which Newcastle Airport Limited (NAL) leases land and has approval for a tightly enforced limit on civil aircraft access at RAAF Base Williamtown, is likely to resist any substantial increase in scheduled services. NAL has sought to bolster its own defences, enlisting the NSW state government, which has historically been strongly supportive of growth at Newcastle Airport, in part to relieve pressure on Sydney Airport.
In a policy decision late last year, the NSW government confirmed it would support Newcastle Airport’s efforts to call on the commonwealth government to adjust slot management at Newcastle Airport to allow for more flexible scheduling during peak periods.
“The overall response from government regarding the recommendations for aviation growth and the development of an aviation policy has been extremely positive,” commented Newcastle Airport’s manager of aviation business development, David Nye.
“For many years, NSW has been competing with other states for the country’s limited aircraft capacity.
“Our neighbouring state governments in Queensland and Victoria have government-based aviation strategy and development specialists who work hard to get airlines to fly into their state. And the proof is in the pudding. Victoria has successfully had Etihad and Emirates make major route development announcements, and Queensland has forged partnerships with key Chinese carriers,” Nye added.
Newcastle Airport’s first venture into international services was in 2003 when it developed temporary facilities to accommodate international services by Air New Zealand no-frills airline Freedom Air. The services were short-lived due to lower-than-expected demand and a change to Freedom Air’s fleet deployment plans.