The Federal Government has announced huge investment in Newcastle Airport, shaping the Hunter up as a new heartland for tourism and defence.

BAE Systems has received an $80 million contract over five years, to provide ongoing support for Australia’s F-35A fighter fleet at Williamtown RAAF Base.

The Government’s committed another $60 million to increase funding for the F-35A Industry Support Program.

A $164.9 million contract has also been awarded to Downer EDI Works to improve airfield infrastructure not only for military aviation, but to enable civilian international flights.

Patron Senator for the Hunter Hollie Hughes says it will benefit the economy in more way than one.

“At the end of the day, we’re going to see a much more substantial runway, we’re going to see much more substantial jobs and regional tourism created from that,” Ms Hughes said.

“This is going to be a boom for all Novocastrians, very, very quickly.”

Construction is expected to begin early next year and wrap up by late 2023. 

It’s hoped local businesses with supply 75 percent of the total contract value.

The works contract alone is expected to support around 300 jobs.

Newcastle Airport CEO Peter Cock says the potential in opening Newcastle up to the world is even bigger.

“We really think that getting our region to Singapore, really then gives those connections, but also importantly the traffic in, you’ve got access to a number of markets, because Singapore’s such a huge global hub,” Mr Cock said.

“Also not forgetting the freight – we need to get our amazing green produce out into Asia.”

The possibility of permanent international routes from Newcastle Airport have long been touted.

The Federal Government initially announced this commitment in May this year.

It’s hoped the Airport could host at least two international flights a day, in addition to domestic services.

Mr Cock says it’s a whole new chapter for the Hunter.

“We’re trying to partner with the NSW Government now, so we get all the tiers of government combining into this project,” Mr Cock said.

“We’ve done a 50 year vision for this airport. We think it’s between five and ten million people – so think Gold Coast, think Adelaide Airport.”

“That’s what this region needs, if we’re going to be the airport the region deserves and service the economic activity, not be a handbrake.”