Newcastle Airport (New South Wales)
RAAF Base Williamtown
Newcastle Airport in 2011
|IATA: NTL – ICAO: YWLM|
|Owner||Newcastle City Council
Port Stephens Council
|Operator||Newcastle Airport Ltd|
|Serves||Lower Hunter Region|
|Location||Williamtown, New South Wales, Australia|
|Elevation AMSL||31 ft / 9 m|
Newcastle Airport (IATA: NTL, ICAO: YWLM) is 15 kilometres; 9.2 miles (8 NM) north of Newcastle, New South Wales (27 km (17 mi) by road) in Port Stephens. It is the 12th busiest airport in Australia, handling just over 1.2 million passengers in the year ending 30 June 2011, which is 83,910 more than in 2009–10. The airport occupies a 28 ha (69 acres) site on the southern border of RAAF Base Williamtown.
The airport is jointly owned by Newcastle City Council and Port Stephens Council, and managed by Newcastle Airport Limited. The airport and associated developments support an estimated 3,200 jobs and contributed $465.5 million to the economy of the lower Hunter Region in 2008.
The airport runway is shared with the RAAF Base Williamtown. Even though this base is a military airfield, civilian operations are permitted. Jetstar, Virgin Australia, QantasLink and Regional Express operate flights to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Gold Coast and Ballina. Brindabella Airlines operated at the airport until its collapse in late 2013. The airport is leased from the Federal Government for civilian air travel until 2045.
The largest aircraft currently operating to Newcastle Airport are the Boeing 737-800s of Virgin Australia. The civil apron can handle aircraft up to the size of a Boeing 767. Future upgrades to the apron will allow larger Airbus A330 and Boeing 787-sized aircraft to operate from the airport terminal. The airport runway can handle aircraft up to Boeing 747 size.
Commercial operations began at Williamtown in 1947 when the Australian Government opened the existing Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) airport to civil aviation. The airport remained under government control until 1990 when responsibility for its operation was handed over to Newcastle City Council and Port Stephens Council. The current operator, Newcastle Airport Limited, was formed by the two councils in 1993.
Scheduled services to the airport commenced in February 1948, with Trans Australia Airlines using DC-3 aircraft to service a Sydney–Newcastle–Brisbane route. A new passenger terminal was constructed in 1975. During the 1970s, Masling Airlines operated Cessna 402 aircraft on commuter flights between Newcastle and Sydney, and in 1980 with the acquisition of larger Embraer EMB-110 Bandeirante aircraft added a Newcastle – Canberra route. Passenger numbers increased during the 1980s with new airlines and routes serving the airport, including jet services utilising Fokker F28s of Air New South Wales and Ansett Boeing 737s.
Impulse Airlines, a regional airline and later one of Australia's first low cost airlines, established a base at the airport in the early 1990s, creating a maintenance facility. In 1994, Impulse added the first direct Newcastle – Melbourne flights to their network utilising Jetstream 41 aircraft. In 1996, owing largely Impulse's establishment of Newcastle as a regional hub, the terminal facilities were upgraded to handle growing passenger volumes. In 2000 Impulse acquired Boeing 717 and rebranded itself as a low cost carrier. Newcastle Airport remained an integral part of the Impulse route network until the company was bought out by Qantas the following year. Following Qantas' acquisition of Impulse in 2001, the airport became the maintenance base for Jetstar's Airbus A320 fleet. The base also provides third party aircraft maintenance for the Qantaslink Boeing 717.
Newcastle airport briefly offered International flights to New Zealand, these services operated by Freedom Air commenced in 2001 using Boeing 737s. These services were discontinued the following year. No carriers currently offer services to destinations outside of Australia from Newcastle.
In 1997, BAE Systems was awarded the contract for assembly and ongoing system support for the Hawk 127 Lead in Fighters for the Royal Australian Air Force. As part of the contract, a large facility was built adjacent to the passenger terminal at a cost of $15 million. Twenty-one of the thirty three aircraft currently in service were assembled at Williamtown, with the final deliveries taking place in October 2001. The BAE facility forms part of the Williamtown Aerospace Centre precinct.
Flight JQ371, the inaugural flight of Jetstar Airways departed Newcastle for Melbourne on 24 May 2004.
$8.25 million was spent on upgrades to the terminal facilities completed in November 2005 to cope with future demand and security requirements. This development doubled the available floor space in the terminal building, enhanced security screening and added a third departure gate, two baggage carousels and a retail concourse with five stores. In the same year, Jetstar Engineering invested $29 million towards improvements to the former Impulse maintenance facilities to allow heavy maintenance on A320 family aircraft to be conducted at the airport, Aeropelican Air Services moved operations to Williamtown from Belmont Airport and Newcastle Airport was named Regional Airport of the Year by the Australian airports industry. Additional car parking and enhanced set down and pick up landside access was added in 2006 at a further cost of $2.7 million.
Newcastle Airport is surrounded by Class C Airspace and has a control tower which is manned Monday to Friday, between the hours of 0800 – 2200. On weekends and at other times, pilots must co-ordinate movements using a Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF). The air traffic control service is provided by RAAF personnel.
Runway 12/30 has an available landing distance of 2,438 m (7,999 ft) with an asphalt surface. Runway 12 is equipped with a Category 1 Instrument landing system incorporating a high intensity approach lighting array to assist aircraft approaching the airport in poor weather conditions. Both ends of the runway are equipped with arrestor wires, although during civil operations, these are not deployed. Aircraft rescue and firefighting services are provided to the airport by the Department of Defence
The terminal building is serviced by a taxi rank and shuttle bus services. Major rental car companies also operate from the passenger terminal. As part of the 2005 upgrades, an information desk was incorporated to provide arriving passengers with facilities to book accommodation, connections and receive information on local attractions. Public internet access is provided.
In July 2012, developer GWH Group announced that it had lodged a development application with the Port Stephens Council to construct a $12 million hotel complex on airport land adjacent to the current long term car park. The proposal is in response to the rapid growth in passengers using the airport and a lack of accommodation options in the immediate vicinity.
Airlines and destinations
|Jetstar Airways||Brisbane, Melbourne, Gold Coast|
|QantasLink operated by Sunstate Airlines||Brisbane|
|Regional Express||Sydney, Ballina, Taree|
|Virgin Australia||Brisbane, Melbourne|
|1||Queensland, Brisbane||591,800||1.6||Virgin Australia, Jetstar, QantasLink|
|2||Victoria, Melbourne||425,200||1.0||Virgin Australia, Jetstar|
Future international services
Accidents and incidents
On 2 October 1994, a Rockwell Commander 690B operating for Seaview Air with flight number CD111 departed Newcastle (Williamtown) Airport for Lord Howe Island. The aircraft carried a pilot and 8 passengers. Radio contact with the aircraft was lost during the flight, and a search and rescue operation was declared. Two days later debris was found floating on the sea near the aircraft's last known position. The Bureau of Air Safety Investigation (predecessor of ATSB) report into the incident uncovered alarming information about how the flight was conducted, particularly that the aircraft was 220 kg over maximum takeoff weight, the pilot did not possess a current medical certificate required to operate the aircraft and the company did not have the pre-requisite licences to operate regular public transport flights between Newcastle and Lord Howe Island. The accident is considered not to have been survivable by anyone on board the aircraft. The circumstances surrounding the accident led to a commission of inquiry into the Civil Aviation Authority's handling of Seaview Air's operations.
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