Business Hunter Welcomes Runway Upgrade Funding
The upgrade of Newcastle Airport's runway to Code E standard will open the Hunter to the world as a tourism and freight hub, Business Hunter said today.
Welcoming the federal government's budget commitment to fund the runway upgrade, Business Hunter CEO Bob Hawes said the project was significant and much-needed infrastructure that would benefit many business and industry sectors across the region.
"Having an airport with genuine international capacity Is a game-changer for the Hunter, especially as we emerge from the pandemic and seek to re-establish trade and tourism connections with other parts of the world," Mr Hawes said.
"The Airport Is already one of the major drivers of the regional economy; prior to COVID it was supporting more than 3,000 jobs and injecting more than $1 billion into the economy of the Hunter and northern NSW.
"With the added capacity to take long-range aircraft, the upgraded facility will generate substantial new economic activity, with the business case forecasting the creation of a further 4,400 jobs and a total injection of $12.7 billion Into the regional economy over 20 years.
"Importantly, more than half of that economic benefit will be in additional freight activity. So, as well as putting the Hunter on the international tourism trail, the runway upgrade will deliver significant export opportunities for primary producers in the Hunter and across western and northern NSW.
"The upgrade also supports Defence activities and the diversification of the regional economy, and will accelerate the substantial growth to come from the establishment of the Williamtown Special Activation Precinct and the development of the Astra Aerolab aviation park."
Mr Hawes said the runway upgrade had been a focus of Business Hunter's advocacy to government in recent years and he believed COVID had only reinforced the importance of the project to the Hunter and NSW.
"A regional international airport will provide NSW with an aviation sector that Is more diverse and resilient, especially in times of crisis, and facilitate a stronger economic recovery from the pandemic," Mr Hawes said.
With the runway upgrade now confirmed, Mr Hawes said the State Government should take the opportunity to step in and fund the complementary terminal expansion.
"By partnering with Newcastle Airport to deliver the terminal, the state government can act now to back a winner and ensure that the benefits to the region and NSW of the Code E runway upgrade are maximised."