Airport bosses today reveal ambitious growth plans which could see more than 2,000 new jobs created over the next decade.
Helping to drive the management’s proposals for Newcastle International Airport is the hope that the facility’s worth to the regional economy can be more than doubled to £1.3bn by 2030.
While advances in aircraft technology mean runway expansion is now no longer needed, the plans will still see extensive development around the site, with the potential for the terminal to be increased, more car parking space and further work to turn nearby land into office and factory space.
Passenger numbers are expected to rise from more than four million in 2012 to eight and a half million journeys by 2030, with around 87,000 aircraft arriving and departing by then.
Airport bosses say that advances in plane construction should mean that noise levels never rise above those experienced in 1993, even as the hub attracts large aircraft. Although the changes are set for existing airport land, ongoing green belt changes planned by Newcastle City Council could see some additional expansion by the airport after 2030.
A consultation about to start on the masterplan will see airport bosses admit that it has to take account of a controversial bypass city council chiefs say will be needed for new green belt housing.
If plans go ahead for a road linking the A1 to the A69, cutting through countryside to the west of the city, that would create the potential for new business parks to be developed in space on either side of the road as it passes through the airport site.
But, with this development only a possibility after 2030, airport bosses say they are fully focused on growing the business.
Airport chief executive Dave Laws said: “Our aim is to be the UK’s most welcoming airport.
“As part of this aim, we want to provide an improved airport, to encourage new routes and attract new customers.
“To do this we need to develop additional infrastructure, such as improvements to the terminal, better car parking and access, and the development of the southside, which will help diversify the airport business and secure new income sources.
“We want to help our neighbours and the wider North East region understand how the airport will grow in the future.
“We also want to demonstrate that we have carefully considered the local impacts our plans could have, including on the community, the environment and local roads.
“We’ve launched a consultation process in order to hear everyone’s view on our plans.
“And once all the responses have been reviewed, we will consider whether any changes need to be made.”
Much of that growth will be focused on the 80-acre Southside Development, which already has planning permission for some sections.
Work over two sites south of the runway will include hangar space for aircraft maintenance and a business park with office space. The airport itself could also see a second pier added for departing and arriving aircraft.
The airport’s majority shareholders are the seven North East councils, including Newcastle, which is currently looking at ways of using a new supercouncil to lobby for direct regular flights to the US from Tyneside.
South Tyneside Council leader Iain Malcolm, head of the LA7 council shareholder group, said: “I very much welcome the publication of this masterplan.
“It is important that there is a clear plan for the future expansion of the airport in place.
“A growing airport with a wider range of global connections will be crucially important to the future economic wellbeing of the region.”
Australian investment firm AMP Capital, the airport’s new minority shareholder, has also backed the plans.
Head of asset management David Rees said: “This is very much in keeping with its role as a key strategic asset for the North East and will help ensure that the very significant economic benefits it brings can be further grown in the future.”