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The Prime Minister of Australia, The Hon. Scott Morrison, will today travel to Newcastle Airport to announce the much-anticipated funding for a significant upgrade to the airfield that Newcastle Airport accesses from RAAF Base Williamtown.

The upgrade works, which will commence this year in conjunction with the RAAF’s scheduled runway maintenance program, will see the runway upgraded to Code E status. This will allow wide-bodied, long-haul aircraft to fly in and out of Williamtown, connecting the rest of the world to the people and businesses of the Hunter, Central Coast and Northern NSW.

Newcastle Airport CEO Dr Peter Cock said the upgrade was a game-changer for the region.

“I want to thank the Prime Minister and the Federal Government for the confidence and trust they have shown in our airport and the region more generally.”

“Attracting this funding has been the result of a huge effort from the entire region. The support we have received from all sectors of our community in advocating for this project has been extraordinary.”  

“Now we can focus on the potential that this infrastructure upgrade will unleash. It will permanently change our region for the better in so many ways,” he said.

“Of course, it will offer convenience for travellers from our region who want to fly internationally. But more importantly, it will drive huge, sustainable economic benefits into the whole of northern NSW. It is truly a nation building project.”

"From local tourism operators and hospitality owners to agricultural producers and freight and logistics providers, this project will drive significant jobs and economic return for generations to come.”

Also speaking today, Chair of Newcastle Airport, Kirby Clark was elated to see the funding delivered for what has been the Board’s priority project for some time.

“It’s difficult to put into words how important this project is for the airport and the 1.2million people that it services,” he said.

“Measured in purely dollar terms, we estimate the economic benefit will exceed $12B across the life of the runway, diversifying the local economy and generating 4,000 full time jobs.”

“But beyond that, it offers hope and confidence to our industry, the wider business community and our community at just the right time after a very challenging 18 months.”

Echoing those sentiments, Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the airport would play a key role in the city’s transformation.

“We are emerging as a truly global gateway city with Newcastle Airport having direct access to our key trading and tourism partners in Asia and beyond”, she said.

“This breakthrough redevelopment of Newcastle Airport’s runway will bring the rest of the world closer to Newcastle, which means more jobs, more economic growth and more opportunities to showcase our region on an international stage.”

“Our strong, united and consistent advocacy to the Federal Government has paid off, and we can’t wait to watch this important upgrade commence. It’s a great day for Newcastle”.

Port Stephens Mayor Ryan Palmer agreed on the ability for the airport to drive transformational change.

Whilst Port Stephens already has a well-established international brand, a Code E runway will bring key markets directly to our doorstep and fast track our economic growth.”

The project, which will cost approximately $55million in addition to the $115million upgrade that Defence is already undertaking, is due to commence in June 2021 and will be completed in early 2023.


Code E Key Facts

  • A code E runway will allow wide bodied commercial aircraft such as Boeing 787’s and Airbus A330’s to use Newcastle Airport.
  • These aircraft carry in excess of 250 passengers and significant freight loads. They are able to undertake long haul flights into North Asia, the Middle East and the Americas.
  • Newcastle Airport will need to upgrade and expand its terminal to cater for these greater passenger loads.
  • Ongoing discussions are being held with the NSW Government regarding a partnering arrangement to activate the terminal expansion.
  • Over the next 20 years, the upgrade of the airfield and terminal will generate the creation of 4,400 extra fulltime jobs.
  • Over the same time, it will also generate:
    • $6.2Billion in extra income for the visitor economy
    • $6.5Billion in additional business activity through increased freight access
  • 80% of Australia’s air freight travels in the hold of passenger aircraft.
  • Access to these long-haul markets will be a significant boost to the Williamtown Special Activation Precinct (SAP) being managed by the NSW Government.
  • The Williamtown SAP It is focusing on Defence aerospace, advanced manufacturing and export enabled industries.


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