On Friday I had the privilege of participating in the official opening of the $14.5 million Newcastle Airport terminal expansion and redevelopment project, which was majority funded by the NSW Government’s Hunter Infrastructure and Investment Fund.
The change in the physical building is remarkable. The building has increased in size by 50 per cent, light fills every public space in the terminal, and our customers now have the choice of six quality food and beverage outlets that provide a variety of offerings, which include many local products. In addition, these new outlets employ more than 50 staff.
We now have an airport that complements the spirit of our region – bright, modern, and ready for the future. Our region now has an airport it deserves.
To unveil to our region the stunning finished product, which was the long-term vision of my predecessor, allows Newcastle Airport to achieve its next phase of growth.
My vision for our airport is to provide better connectivity, to work with our community, and provide a quality customer experience.
Recent announcements by local airlines showing they’re operating in the black combined with lower overhead costs – such as the price of oil being the lowest it’s been in five years – means the airlines are currently in a sweet-spot. These lower overhead costs combined with increased capacity in airline fleets are timed perfectly with the opening of our terminal; this gives us the ability to take on more services we couldn’t have previously.
Newcastle Airport has a catchment boundary of the Central Coast to the south, the Upper Hunter to the west, and Port Macquarie to the north. In total this is approximately 1.2 million people.
Hailing from Perth, I see the potential this airport has. Perth Airport has a catchment of 2.5 million people. This catchment sustains a significant number of direct international and domestic services.
While Newcastle is different to Perth, in that our catchment has a choice to use Sydney Airport, it is my vision to convert the number of people who don’t use our airport to become Newcastle Airport passengers. If Perth can sustain a slew of international and domestic services, there’s no reason why Newcastle can’t.
Having worked in the aviation industry for more than a decade, I am well aware that new services aren’t simply a light-switch that can be turned on. Just because we have a new terminal doesn’t necessarily mean that we will get new services. I’m working with my team to actively engage with airlines with the end goal of providing our region the services you have been long-demanding.
It is becoming difficult for the airlines to dismiss our region. The fact that Williamtown is becoming a real aerospace hub: on the other side of the runway to us is RAAF Base Williamtown which is currently undergoing $1 billion in upgrades; on our airport site we have the Jetstar heavy maintenance facility, BAE; and adjacent to us is Lockheed Martin and the Mercure Newcastle Airport.
Newcastle Airport recently recorded its best July on record, this shows that our market continues to love flying and our region continues to attract visitors to our wonderful and diverse tourism products. Being new to Newcastle I am one of those people that “never knew” how great this region is.
I am convinced that our region has the opportunity to provide not only one of the best tourism experiences in New South Wales but one of the best tourism experiences in Australia. I truly believe that is something we can capitalise on when attracting the domestic and international markets.
The Newcastle Airport you will experience today really sets the benchmark for regional aviation in terms of design, build, and customer service. The building we have today has been the work of local architects and local builders who have provided jobs for our region and the end result is connectivity for our region to the rest of Australia and beyond.
Image | Newcastle Airport CEO Peter Cock and Chairman Peter Gesling at the unveiling of the $14.5 million Newcastle Airport terminal expansion.