Newcastle Airport was originally opened as Williamtown Civilian Airport in 1947 after a charter flight landed at the RAAF Base, Williamtown. It wasn’t until 20 February 1948 that scheduled commercial operations commenced at the Airport.
The Commonwealth Government continued to run the Airport until 1990 when Newcastle City Council and Port Stephens Council accepted an invitation by the Government to jointly operate the civil area at RAAF Base, Williamtown.
The two councils accepted full responsibility for operating, maintaining, and development of what was to become Newcastle Airport. As a consequence, Newcastle Airport Limited, a company limited by guarantee was formed on 25 May 1993 by the two councils, and a 30-year lease was signed for 23 hectares including the site of the terminal and land for commercial development. The lease was modified in 2005 to a 40-year lease (terminating March 2045) and to include an additional five hectares of land.
For many years the passenger terminal was little more than a ‘tin shed’. This was remedied with the opening of new terminal facilities in March 1975 by the Federal Minister for Transport, Mr Charles Jones. In 1994 and 2000 Newcastle Airport underwent further major upgrades which included the doubling of the terminal floor area, total refurbishment of the interior and exterior of the building, and the provision of office suites for airlines.
Impulse Airlines began operating B717 jet services from Williamtown in 2000 on the Sydney-Melbourne route. In November 2003 Virgin Blue introduced B737 aircraft on daily services to Melbourne and in May 2004 introduced daily services to Brisbane. In May 2004 Jetstar also commenced services on the Newcastle-Melbourne and Newcastle-Brisbane routes using the B717 aircraft.
Newcastle Airport underwent another major upgrade in 2005 which doubled the terminal floor area, introduced a retail precinct, doubled the departures and arrivals areas, provided additional office suites, and upgraded the car parking and road systems.
Today, Newcastle Airport is serviced by all the major domestic airlines that provide services to the major destinations along the east-coast of Australia. The Airport is significantly contributing to the domestic and international growth of business and tourism to the surrounding region.
Since the introduction of jet services into Newcastle Airport, the number of passengers using the Airport has increased from 214,000 in 2003 to almost 1,200,000 in the 2012 calendar year.
In 2013, Newcastle Airport received notification from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) that the request for change in company structure had been approved. This change enables the company, now Newcastle Airport Pty Limited, to independently raise debt and ensure a sustainable and long-term company structure. It also enables the Councils the ability to receive dividends from the Airport's profits, if the funds are available.