New direct flights between Newcastle and Canberra and a new arrivals hall at Newcastle Airport will boost business tourism in the Greater Hunter region, according to the leaders of the Altogether Perfect marketing group.

Sydney-based Pelican Airlines will launch direct flights between Newcastle and Canberra on April 27, 2015 under its Fly Pelican brand, using 19-seat BAE Jetstream 32 turboprop aircraft.

The airline will offer a morning service from Newcastle to the national capital and a late afternoon return flight plus a Sunday afternoon service. A short service between Newcastle and Sydney Airport will also operate.

The announcement coincides with the completion of stage one of a $14.5 million expansion of Newcastle Airport which will see a 50 per cent increase in capacity and facilitate the growth of domestic flights.

The new, now-completed arrivals hall offers personal, TV screen greetings for VIP and conference group delegates as well as welcomes and assistance offered by the airport’s new volunteer ambassadors.

Stage two of the airport expansion, which includes a full refurbishment of the existing terminal and improvements to the departures area, will be completed by late 2015. A 95-room hotel worth $8 million will also open next to the airport later this year.

Business events and conventions developer for the Newcastle Convention Bureau, Georgia Lazzari, said the new-look Newcastle Airport and the new Canberra connection significantly enhanced the appeal of business events in Newcastle, the Hunter Valley and Port Stephens.

“As the base for many government departments, Canberra is obviously a key source of business for conferences and meetings in our region and when corporate groups arrive here, Newcastle Airport is now able to personally welcome them so we see expect to see more corporate travellers from Canberra heading to the Greater Hunter soon,” Ms Lazzari said.

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