It's been a long time coming, but international flights are finally returning to Newcastle Airport.
Virgin Australia has announced it'll operate a direct service to Auckland, with the first flight taking off on November 22.
There'll be three return services a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, with one-way fares starting from $199 (minus baggage).
The trans-Tasman service will operate during the summer holiday period until February 17, before a decision is made on whether to have flights year-round.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack visited Newcastle Airport to make the announcement, and talk up the tourism opportunities.
“Importantly, these flights will help drive regional tourism growth and dispersal of visitors to Australia’s most popular tourism destinations,” Mr McCormack said.
“New Zealand and Australia remain strong reciprocal tourism markets, with some 2.845 million travellers moving between the two destinations each year."
“Virgin Australia will be providing 13,000 additional seats across the busy holiday season.”
The direct service to Auckland will save Novocastrians having to travel to Sydney to fly across the Tasman.
“With this direct flight, local residents will arrive in Auckland within three hours, ensuring they have more time to enjoy the breath-taking sights and incredible experiences New Zealand is famous for," Virgin Australia's Russell Shaw said.
Newcastle Airport CEO, Dr Peter Cock is confident the flights will prove popular.
"Community support for direct international services has been extremely strong. New Zealand is our number one unserved market, so it is fitting that the first flight through our new international facilities will be servicing Auckland," he said.
Freedom Air previously offered direct flights from Newcastle to Auckland for about two years from 2001.