Airport hotel idea will fly

THE continuing growth and success of Newcastle Airport has meant that a hotel has been on the agenda for some time. Now, it seems, the idea’s time may finally have come.

Developer GWH – a Hunter firm with a long list of successful projects to its name – is proposing a staged hotel development of up to 152 rooms within walking distance of the terminal.

Airport hotels are common around the world because they offer passengers convenience and the ability to avoid the risk of delays.

The business case for a Newcastle Airport hotel is perhaps even stronger than that for most other cities, thanks to the adjoining Williamtown fighter base and related aerospace activities.

It goes without saying that airport hotels have to be designed with noise insulation uppermost in mind. That’s especially the case when the airport’s runways play host not only to commercial aircraft, but also to very loud modern fighter jets.

Any experienced developer will clearly understand that issue at the outset and Port Stephens Council will no doubt pay close attention to the hotel’s design.

Little by little, the airport is growing into its proper regional role. The proposed hotel represents one more step along that path.

Still to come are much-needed improvements in the road link between Williamtown and Newcastle – including an upgrade of the Kooragang Island road system and a duplication of the Tourle Street bridge.

Of equal importance is the need to solve the issue of access to capital to fund improvements and expansion of the airport itself. Last year the airport’s owners, Newcastle and Port Stephens councils, agreed in principle to sell down their shareholding. Provided some technical and contractual issues can be resolved, a partial privatisation could be the next big leap forward for the facility.

Chocolate shock

NEWS that Australian confectionary icon, Darrell Lea, is in administration and up for sale will have come as a shock to the brand’s many fans.

Not to mention its 700 employees, most of whom apparently had no idea their employer was in financial difficulty.

Founded in 1927 by Harry and Esther Lea in a back room of their Manly fruit shop, Darrell Lea survived the Great Depression and blossomed into a nationwide brand.

In recent years the firm won a celebrated David and Goliath battle with global chocolatier Cadbury over the use of the colour purple in Darrell Lea packaging, but the retail downturn appears to have played a part in bringing the plucky little Aussie battler to its knees.

The good news is that the administrator plans to keep the business trading while its operations are reviewed and talks are opened with potential buyers.

It would be a shame if this great Australian brand was to join the long list of others to pass into foreign hands.

But it would be an even bigger shame if Darrell Lea products vanished from shop shelves altogether.

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