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Up, up and away, Newcastle Airport plans soaring


Newcastle Airport has had its fair share of money shakes over recent years. 

Since it was first announced that the Williamtown address would undergo extensive renovations to welcome international passengers through its doors, the NTL hub has gained attention from investors, politicians, airlines, businesses and travellers alike. 

From the breeze-in breeze-out visit of former Prime Minister Scott Morrison to the bigwigs from the Commonwealth Bank. 

We’ve read about a $66 million funding promise, a $55 million handshake from both sides of politics, as well as a whopping $240 million ‘We Can’ assurance. 

So, where are we at with the Newcastle International Airport upgrade?

And, when will the Hunter finally be able to cater for the growing number of airlines and passengers keen to bypass Sydney and soar from Port Stephens? 

Newcastle Airport – Expansion plans are up, up and away.


Like many competitive sports, the plan to prepare Newcastle Airport for its international status is broken down into four quarters.

Q1 – Airfield Upgrade.

Q2 – Carpark and utilities upgrade.

Q3 – Airport Terminal expansion.

Q4 – Apron and Taxiway upgrade. 

According to the Newcastle Airport Expansion Project Timeline, the upgrade is at the halfway mark. 

Defence has been responsible for managing the update of the airfield to Code E Status, allowing wide bodied commercial aircraft such as Boeing 787’s and Airbus A330’s to use Newcastle Airport. 

The car park is being moved and expanded allowing for more parking spaces.

In September 2022, Newcastle Airport CEO Dr Peter Cock said the environment featured too.

“The design of this car park, as with the expanded terminal, is driven by sustainability,” he explained.

“The 1,212 solar panels covering the car parks will produce 983,315Kw annually, representing 21% of the airport’s annual consumption. 

“There will be about 160 parking spaces, with eight electric vehicle charging spaces, accessible and motorbike spaces.” 

The next step is the Airport Terminal expansion which is expected to begin in the coming weeks (a little behind its 2023 Q2 expected start).  

This includes the fun stuff like retail shopping, an enclosed walkway, aerobridges, possibly duty-free shopping, food outlets and airport lounges. 

Then finally the tarmac will be ready for takeoff by mid-2024. 

Newcastle Airport Upgrade
Newcastle Airport CEO Dr Peter Cock.


Newcastle Airport started life as Williamtown Civilian Airport in 1947, when the existing RAAF airport was opened for commercial flights. At the time it was little more than a shed.  

In 1990 the Federal Government leased the airport site.

In 1993 Newcastle Airport Pty Ltd was formed.

Scheduled services to the airport commenced in February 1948, with Trans Australia Airlines (TAA) flying a Sydney–Newcastle–Brisbane route.  

A new passenger terminal was constructed in 1975.  

In 1980 commuter flights began between Newcastle and Canberra. 

Impulse Airlines established a base at the airport in the early 1990s and launched the first direct Newcastle to Melbourne flights, before rebranding as a low-cost airline in 2000 and being bought out by Qantas the following year. 

In 2005 Aeropelican Air Services moved operations to Williamtown from Belmont Airport and Newcastle Airport was named Regional Airport of the Year by the Australian airports industry. 

In November 2006, an $8.25 million upgrade to the terminal facilities was completed.  

In the same year, Jetstar Engineering invested $29 million towards improvements to the former Impulse maintenance facilities  

Additional car parking and enhanced set down and pick up landside access was added in 2006 at a further cost of $2.7 million. 

On 24 February 2015, Newcastle Airport’s 2,600 m2 (27,986 sq ft) extension was opened.  

The new expansion opened the airport to possible international services with a dedicated area for permanent customs, immigration and quarantine facilities.  

This expansion was the first stage of an $80 million redevelopment, with the existing terminal undergoing a full refurbishment. 

Redevelopment works for the adjacent RAAF base Williamtown, including a 650 m (2,133 ft) extension of the shared runway, began in January 2015. 

In February 2022, Bonza announced that Newcastle would become one of its 17 destinations. 

Newcastle Airport 2000.

Who owns Newcastle Airport? 

Newcastle Airport site is owned by the federal government and leased to City of Newcastle and Port Stephens Council. 

Passenger Numbers 

In 2008, 1,145,607 passengers embarked or disembarked through Newcastle Airport—which is 139,979 more passengers, or a 14% increase, on the previous record of 2007. 

Its most recent record was in 2019, when 1.284 million passengers passed through its gates.

Newcastle Airport – artists impression of terminal upgrade.

What does the future look like? 

By 2036, Newcastle Airport is predicted to be the gateway for at least 2.6 million passengers (the population of Western Australia). 

Four decades later that number is hoped to increase to 5.6 million. 

Within the next 13 years, Newcastle Airport is expected to undertake numerous alterations. The 2036 Newcastle Airport Vision lists airfield, terminal, transport and aviation facilities that will need to be completed in order to successfully cater to the expected passenger numbers. This includes; 

  • terminal transformation to offer facilities expanded over two levels 
  • additional food, beverage and retail businesses
  • international services implemented into the facilities 
  • aerobridges from the upper level 
  • major modifications to integrate ground transport and road access 
  • creation of a pedestrian plaza 
  • additional car parking areas and offerings 
  • creation of a ‘campus’ style business precinct. 

How much will it cost? 

According to a spokesperson at Newcastle Airport the total figure is $160 million, including the Williamtown drive intersection upgrade. 

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