Newcastle airport to break ground on expansion in July

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Australia’s Newcastle airport will break ground in July on a terminal expansion project that could pave the way for limited international services.

Stage one of the project will see an addition to the existing terminal building, resulting in its footprint growing by 50%. The new area is expected to open in mid-2015, after which an interior refurbishment of the existing terminal will start, with the aim of increasing retail space within the departures area.

Once it is completed, the terminal will have a capacity to handle five million passengers per annum, but will not receive any additional parking bays.

The project is being completely funded by a A$11.1 million ($10.4 million) grant from the New South Wales government as part of a wider investment in the Hunter region, which is north of Sydney.

The expansion includes the addition of areas that can be used for immigration, customs and quarantine processing, which would allow it to accommodate international flights.

“We’ve been talking to airlines for some years, especially over trans-Tasman routes,” says David Nye, manager of aviation business development.

The airport is hopeful that a three or four times weekly service to New Zealand could come within months of opening the expansion, while narrowbody services to Denpasar are also a possibility.

While the airport would like to attract widebody international services, AirAsia X and Scoot have focused on serving Sydney airport. Nevertheless Nye says that it could handle charters from major markets such as China.

As the airport shares its main infrastructure with RAAF Base Williamtown, and is limited to only six civil arrivals per hour. Nevertheless, Nye adds that it still has slots that could be used in off-peak periods.

Innovata schedules show that Jetstar, Qantas, Regional Express and Virgin Australia operate over 1000 domestic flights per month through the airport.