Following the absence last week of a Federal Government budget announcement, Newcastle Airport in Australia remains cautiously optimistic that it will secure funding for its $65 million upgrade to the runway it accesses from RAAF Base Williamtown.

The project will see the runway upgraded to Code E status, which would allow wide-bodied, long-haul aircraft to access the airport and connect the region and northern New South Wales to the rest of the world.

The runway upgrade needs to be delivered in conjunction with scheduled $115 million Defence maintenance work which is due to start in June 2021 and is slated for completion in November 2022. Subsequently, additional funding for the runway upgrade project needs to be confirmed before the next budget cycle, with a stop date in the first quarter of next year. Failure to do so could see the airport waiting until the next RAAF upgrade in 20 years time.

Although no specific funding has been announced for the project, there have been a number of significant infrastructure and regional funding pools announced, which the airport is confident apply to its upgrade project. Newcastle Airport CEO, Dr Peter Cock said he was hopeful the airport would be able to access some of the funding earmarked in the budget for regional infrastructure.

“I remain confident that the Federal Government understands the importance of this project for the region and the nation,” he said.

He added that upgrading the runway will provide confidence and hope at a time when it is most needed and will deliver tangible benefits. “From local tourism operators and hospitality owners to agricultural producers and freight and logistics providers, this project will drive significant jobs and huge economic return  well into the future.”

As such, Dr Cock also asserted that the airport “Will be working hard and engaging with other regional leaders to put together a compelling case as to why this project should be top on the list of projects to be funded. Doing so will ultimately add £12 billion to the regional economy and provide 4,000 full-time jobs. That is a huge amount of potential that is currently untapped.”

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