INTERNATIONAL flights from Newcastle Airport are a step closer to take-off with the opening of a new arrivals hall with dedicated customs, immigration and quarantine facilities.
Unveiling stage one of the $80million terminal expansion on Tuesday, Minister for Planning Pru Goward said the facility marked a new era in Newcastle’s history.
‘‘The expansion will also open up the possibility for future routes to Adelaide, Perth and Cairns, as well as international services to New Zealand and South East Asia,’’ Ms Goward said.
The Newcastle and Port Stephens Council-owned airport is in discussion with three airlines over the trans-Tasman route and hopes to announce a start date for the New Zealand flight mid-year, airport chief executive Paul Hughes said.
New interstate routes are expected to be up and running in 2016, Mr Hughes said.
For now commuters can expect to save time and enjoy new runway views from the naturally lit and spacious arrivals lounge that was designed to reduce congestion.
‘‘The extension allows for faster transition times for patrons between aircraft and terminal. Seeing passengers enjoy it is terrific,’’ said Mr Hughes, who will step down as chief executive at the end of March, after overseeing stage one of the expansion.
‘‘Today is the great cumulation of work we set our sights on many years ago.’’
Stage one included extension of the terminal, a reconfigured layout and the new arrivals hall.
Work has already begun on the second stage of the expansion including refurbishment of the original building, which is to become the departures lounge.
Liberal candidate for Port Stephens Ken Jordan said the expansion would provide local jobs and the new possibilities the region needs.
‘‘Not only will the airport expansion boost the region’s visitor economy, but it will also mean more retail and aviation jobs for locals,’’ Mr Jordan said.
The expansion project is expected to be completed late this year.
By MATT CARR
Newcastle Airport will unveil the first stage of an $80 million redevelopment on Tuesday.
Stage one includes a partial extension of the terminal, a reconfigured layout and a new arrivals hall.
It also included the creation of infrastructure required for international arrivals and departures, including quarantine rooms and customs.
Minister for Planning Pru Goward will officially open the area at 10am.
The Airport's most recent economic impact study pegged the Airport's annual contribution to the Hunter at $1.19 billion.