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History of the Airport

Newman Airport is owned and operated by The Shire of East Pilbara and serves as a vital link between the community of Newman and surrounding communities to Perth. As the only inland public airport within the Pilbara, this airport also serves as preferred alternate airport to all the privately owned and operated jet airports within its catchments area, including flights originating from Broome and East Coast origins.

Located some 11km south of the Town of Newman, more than 430,000 passengers have been known to pass through this airport per annum, with almost 50 Regular Public Transport (RPT) flights per week between Newman and Perth. For information on the current flight schedules and arrivals/departures please contact your airline or visit our flight information page.

Originally constructed by BHP Billiton as a dedicated mine site airstrip in 1968, Ansett commenced operations into Newman in 1968 using F-28 aircraft.

At that time the airport had very limited service delivery infrastructure, and the actual “terminal” consisted of a donga, later converted to a hire car office when Ansett constructed a proper terminal in 1988.

This terminal served as RPT Terminal until 2009 when the new RPT Terminal was commissioned. Since then it has been converted into Airport Management Offices. It also accommodates an RFDS patient transfer station.

In conjunction with the F-28 services, Ansett introduced the first jet service in 1990 using Bae-146 aircraft until the withdrawal of the F-28s in 1998. Until the demise of Ansett in September 2001 the Bae146 aircraft continued to serve the Newman – Perth route.

In April 1996 the Shire of East Pilbara Council assumed responsibility for the ownership and management of Newman Airport through a normalization agreement with BHP Billiton. However, it was only after the demise of Ansett that Council was able to acquire the terminal building as well in a cash transaction from the Ansett administrators.

Following the Ansett demise in September 2001 Qantaslink commenced operations into Newman with Bae-146 aircraft. By the end of 2001 Qantaslink secured a three-year contract with BHP Billiton and introduced B717 aircraft onto this route.

July 2002 saw the establishment of permanent refueling facilities by Air BP, with Polar aviation becoming the first Air Operator tenant at this airport with the establishment of a base and hangar.

The 9/11 terror attack in the USA triggered new security and screening arrangements to be introduced into the Australian aviation world by December 2002. This prompted a capital investment program estimated at $3.5 million to comply with the changed regulations, resulting in the establishment of sterile areas and screening service in August 2003. Qantas was appointed as the Screening Authority and both the airport and the Screening Authority continued to develop and upgrade security arrangements and infrastructure to comply with the ever stricter regulations.

Skywest entered the market in April 2006 by introducing regular scheduled passenger services into Newman using F50 and F100 aircraft. This service continued until late 2008 when Skywest withdrew this service. However, the market void was soon to be filled by Virgin Australia, introducing the Embraer E190 on regular passenger scheduled services to Newman in 2009.

Following the slump in the resources industry in 2000/2001 and the demise of Ansett in September 2001, Newman Airport saw a drastic reduction in passenger and aircraft movements. However, the subsequent recovery of the resources industry is manifested in the corresponding average growth of more than 28% in passenger numbers since 2004/05. This included a relatively weak growth in 2009 following the GCF.

Confidence in the Resources Industry and forecast growth in aircraft movements and passenger numbers prompted a capital investment program of more than $23 million between 2004 and 2009. This included the construction of a new taxiway and apron, and an upgrade of the runway to accommodate B738 and A320 aircraft. It furthermore included the construction of a new RPT Terminal with full checked- and carry-on baggage and passenger screening facilities, and a dedicated screened RPT Apron with three Code 4C bays.

New RPT Terminal commissioned in February 2009.

In 2009 Newman Airport received the Australian Airport Association’s Award for Aviation Excellence in the category Major Airport of the Year.

Service infrastructures upgrades included the establishment of short- and long terms car parks, and a number of car rental companies as tenants at the airport.

From 2010 to 2012 the focus changed towards the upgrading of landside infrastructure to the value of ± $7.0 million. These capital investment projects saw the establishment of roads and storm water drainage infrastructures and replacement of all essential services networks.

The installation of a solar array on the roof of the RPT Terminal in 2012 consisting of 1,536 panels with the capacity of generating up to 120 kW of power.

On 14 May 2011 the first B737 service between Perth and Newman was introduced; an event that was long awaited and prepared for since 2008.

Paid parking in all car parks was introduced from early 2013.

The boom in the resources sector between 2011 and 2013/14 resulted in unprecedented growth in aircraft and passenger movements through the Newman Airport. Over those three years passenger numbers increased by an average of 35% per annum, with a peak during FY2013/14 of a 43% growth. This necessitated a complete review of the Airport Master Plan to identify the facilities and service delivery infrastructure required to meet this trend.

As interim measure a number of smaller projects were launched to reduce some stress on existing service delivery facilities and infrastructure:

  • Extension to the GA Apron that included four dedicated helipads, taxi lines and designated parking bays (2012).



  • Expansion of the RPT Departure lounge with additional boarding gate facilities (2012).



  • Additional Check-in counters and expanded baggage make-up facilities (2012)

  

  • The Shire of East Pilbara assumed the role of Screening Authority in May 2014 following the withdrawal of Qantas from this role.

  

  • September 2014 saw the commissioning of the new Airservices Australia Aerodrome Rescue and Fire Fighting Station.