Newcastle Airport has signed a $240 million financing deal with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) to help fund its expansion.
The airport, which received $121 million in federal government grants to upgrade its airfield and terminals, has enlisted CBA as the sole financier for capital projects not covered by the grants, such as at its Astra Aerolab defence and aerospace precinct.
“Newcastle Airport recently received two Federal Government grants: $66m to upgrade the airfield to commercial Code E standard and $55m to facilitate international code E traffic including upgrades to the terminal. The grants from the Federal Government have been a trigger to significant additional investment, including upgrading our domestic facilities as traffic often exceeds capacity,” Newcastle Airport CEO Peter Cock told Australian Aviation.
“The airport’s debt arrangement with CBA is to refinance existing debt, and to support co-investment in the terminal and a broader range of capital projects at the airport to support growth. The funds will also be used for construction of an office and industrial facility at Astra Aerolab, the airport’s innovation and Defence-focused property estate, to meet strong customer demand.”
In a statement, Commonwealth Bank’s executive general manager regional and agribusiness banking, Paul Fowler, said that Newcastle Airport – NSW’s second busiest, catering for around 1.3 million passengers a year on 12 domestic routes with six domestic airlines – is strategically and economically important to the Hunter region.
“The airport’s expansion and modernisation will significantly increase its capacity and improve connectivity across Newcastle, the Hunter Valley and the Central Coast, driving new business and employment opportunities that add to the region’s prosperity,” he said.
Newcastle Airport is in the process of upgrading its terminal and runway facilities to handle longer international flights on wide-body jets. It has previously hosted seasonal flights to New Zealand, but now wants to look further afield, according to Dr Cock.
“Driving greater economic and social benefits by broadening our domestic and international destinations and contributing to Newcastle’s transformation from a major regional hub into an international destination and a significant second international gateway to NSW, is key to our purpose,” he said.
The airport secured the grant funding ahead of the 2022 election, with both major parties pledging the $55 million terminal upgrade to follow on from the $66 million runway upgrade. The works coincide with upgrades by the RAAF, which owns the airstrip, meaning if the airport had not secured the money in time it would have had to wait until the next scheduled upgrades in approximately 2040.