Growth for Hunter’s airport opportunity for region's economy

Opportunity: Maitland Business Chamber president Craig McGregor with Newcastle Airport's executive manager of commercial and aviation business development Matthew Findlay. Picture: Nick Bielby
Opportunity: Maitland Business Chamber president Craig McGregor with Newcastle Airport's executive manager of commercial and aviation business development Matthew Findlay. Picture: Nick Bielby

With the Badgery’s Creek airport still years from having its first plane land, the Hunter is in a good position to be home to the state’s second major airport, a Maitland Business Chamber meeting has heard.

Newcastle Airport's executive manager of commercial and aviation business development Matthew Findlay gave the keynote address at the chamber’s monthly breakfast meeting on Thursday.

He spoke about opportunities for growth at the airport and the flow-on affects these could have on business, tourism and the Hunter’s economy.

Sydney is effectively the only player on the field... We need another player on the field.

Matthew Findlay, Newcastle Airport.

Mr Findlay said the airport was working towards establishing flights in and out of the Hunter to a range of destinations in the coming years, including Auckland, Fiji, Adelaide, Bali and Singapore.

He said Chinese people represented the most international visitors to NSW because of growing income in China, but the Hunter had not yet captured that market.

“Our aim is to try and capture some of that growth,” he said.

“We’ve got great growth in the domestic market. How do we capture the international market?

“The reason it’s so important for NSW is effectively there’s only one – say one and a half – airports that can play in this space. 

“Sydney is effectively the only player on the field... We need another player on the field. Victoria is really doing well, Queensland has been doing well up until recently, NSW needs another player on the field – and that’s us.

“It’s about making people welcome and changing the mindset of where our growth is going to be in the future.”

Mr Findlay said the growing airport activity would boost the Hunter’s economy and create job growth.

He said, as a general rule of thumb, for every one million passengers there would be 1000 jobs directly created by an airport.

“When we get growth on a constant basis, that’s when airlines start to pay attention,” he said.

“We’ve had 14 months of growth month-on-month and, last year, we broke through the record volume of passengers we’ve ever had – 1.2 million.

“As our business grows, the region grows and, as a result of growth, comes more jobs. If you look at Sydney, they’ve got about 35 million passengers and they’ve got 35,000 staff. They generate jobs.”

This story Growth for Hunter’s airport first appeared on The Maitland Mercury.