Newcastle Airport Chief Executive Peter Cock says he is confident regional tourism will take-off next year thanks to a budget hint earlier this week.
Despite the lack of specific funding announced for the project, Mr Cock said there had been a number of significant infrastructure and regional funding pools announced in Monday night’s Federal Budget announcement, which he was confident apply to the upgrade project.
The runway is accessed from RAAF Base Williamtown.
“I remain confident that the Federal Government understands the importance of this project for the region and the nation,” Dr Cock said.
“Upgrading this runway will provide the confidence and hope at a time that it is most needed.
“More importantly, it will deliver very tangible benefits.”
Dr Cock said the runway upgrade needed to be delivered in conjunction with scheduled Defence maintenance work being carried out next year.
The works would upgrade the runway to Code E status, allowing wide-bodied, long-haul aircraft to access the airport.
“From local tourism operators and hospitality owners to agricultural producers and freight and logistics providers, this project will drive significant jobs and huge economic return well into the future,” Dr Cock said.
“The window of opportunity for this upgrade is now.
“The funding needs to be confirmed before the next budget cycle, with a drop-dead date in the first quarter of next year.”
Dr Cock said the project could ultimately add $12 billion to the region’s economy and provide 4,000 full-time jobs.
“That is a huge amount of potential that is currently untapped,” he said.
“With that in mind, we will be working hard and engaging with other regional leaders to put together a compelling case as to why this project should be top on the list of projects to be funded.”
The project, which would cost $65 million in addition to the $115 million upgrade that Defence is undertaking, is due to commence in June 2021 and would be completed in November 2022.