Media Release 22.11.2018

Newcastle Airport goes international with history-making Virgin Australia flights

Thursday 22 November 2018

Today marked a historic milestone for the greater Hunter Region as Newcastle Airport becomes NSW’s second international airport, when the first flights servicing Auckland in 16 years landed at the Airport.

Newcastle Airport and Virgin Australia celebrated the occasion with the official opening of the new international gates welcoming the first passengers into the $1.6 million international processing facilities for the first time.

The inaugural inbound flight from Auckland arrived at Newcastle Airport at 8.50pm to an excited crowd of family, friends and media cameras.

Newcastle Airport CEO, Dr Peter Cock described the arrival of the inaugural flight as a major milestone for the Hunter, Central Coast and Northern NSW, establishing direct connections as a true global gateway.

The much-anticipated service operated by Virgin Australia between Auckland and Newcastle marks the start of the airlines’ three direct international services per week, estimated to generate an additional $6.1 million into the local economy and up to 6,500 extra visitors to the region.

Passengers on-board the Boeing 737-800 from Auckland were welcomed in true Hunter-style as local media, tourism, industry and government stakeholders gathered to see the plane touch down on the runway.

Guests arriving from Auckland included Port Stephens Council Mayor Ryan Palmer, Newcastle Airport Chair Mr. Peter Gesling, media and trade from New Zealand, and excited V8 Supercar fans taking advantage of the direct flight straight to the starting line of the Newcastle 500 this weekend.

An engineering technicality forced an extended delay on the return flight and it is now scheduled to depart Newcastle Airport at 12:15pm on Friday 23rd November 2018.

The 13-week seasonal service will operate over the peak holiday period with direct flights available every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday between 22 November 2018 – 17 February 2019.


Route

Flight Number

Dep/Arr

M

T

W

T

F

S

S

AKL-NTL

VA198

1710/1845

NTL-AKL

VA199

1930/0025










Quote attributable to Virgin Australia
General Manager, Network, Revenue and Alliances, Russell Shaw

Virgin Australia General Manager, Network, Revenue and Alliances, Russell Shaw, said, ‘We are thrilled to be the first airline to launch flights between Auckland and Newcastle in 16 years and connect these two fantastic cities together again. The new service will provide the regional New South Wales community with a faster, more convenient way to travel between Newcastle and Auckland giving them more time to spend exploring all that New Zealand has to offer.  We’ve recently introduced a suite of changes on flights to New Zealand and are pleased to be offering an all-inclusive service on the new flights including a meal, drink, baggage, inflight entertainment and access to WiFi,’ Mr Shaw said.

Quote attributable to Newcastle Airport Shareholder, Port Stephens Council
Mayor Ryan Palmer
“Today marks the start of a new era for our region, as we welcome our first international flight from Auckland to Newcastle. It is also another key step in the ongoing expansion of our airport and its strategic importance to the Hunter. As Mayor of Port Stephens, I am very proud to have been a part of history and very excited to see our region shared with our closest neighbours over the Tasman. International flights coming to Newcastle Airport is great news for people of the Hunter and regional NSW more broadly – opening up a new world of opportunities for residents and visitors alike.”

Quote attributable to Newcastle Airport Shareholder, City of Newcastle
Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes
"The City of Newcastle is today hailing this major milestone in international tourism and business for our region," Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said. "What better time to welcome the City's first Trans-Tasman visitors by air - and those returning home to Newcastle - than just ahead of the city's biggest event, the Newcastle 500, which will once again draw significant interest from vast international and local audiences. "It's great to know that our City's international status will only grow among our Kiwi neighbours over coming months as Virgin Australia and other air carriers consider additional international routes to and from Newcastle."

Quote attributable to Newcastle Airport
CEO, Dr Peter Cock
Newcastle Airport CEO, Dr Peter Cock described the inaugural flights as a significant achievement for the Hunter region Central Coast and northern NSW, establishing direct connections as a true global gateway. “This is truly a historic moment that opens up a new era of travel and international connectivity for Northern NSW. We were very excited to welcome the arrival of VA199 this evening and the innumerable benefits the 13-week seasonal service will bring to the local economy. It is great for tourism, business, and for people visiting family and friends on both sides of the Tasman. Peter Cock added, “I would like to specifically recognise the support and cooperation of the Federal Government, NSW Government, Virgin Australia, Airport Shareholders City of Newcastle and Port Stephens Council, and the people of our local region in sharing our vision to deliver the Airport the region deserves. Without their help this new route, and all its broader benefits, would not be happening. For the first time in 16 years, the greater Hunter Region now has an international airport, “said Peter Cock.

Ends.

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