Melbourne Airport

Melbourne Airport
Melbourne Airport
Tullamarine Airport
Melbourne Airport.png
Melbourne airport control tower and a United B747
Melbourne airport control tower and united B747.jpg
Airport type Public
Owner Australia Pacific Airports Corporation Limited
Operator Australia Pacific Airports (Melbourne) Pty Ltd
Serves Melbourne
Location Melbourne Airport, adjacent to Tullamarine
Hub for
Elevation AMSL 434 ft / 132 m
Coordinates 37°40′24″S 144°50′36″E / 37.67333°S 144.84333°E / -37.67333; 144.84333Coordinates: 37°40′24″S 144°50′36″E / 37.67333°S 144.84333°E / -37.67333; 144.84333
MEL is located in Melbourne
Location within Melbourne
Direction Length Surface
m ft
09/27 2,286 7,500 Asphalt
16/34 3,657 11,998 Asphalt
Statistics (2010/2011)
Passengers 28,190,457
Aircraft Movements 195,900
Source: En Route Supplement Australia[1]
Passengers from Melbourne Airport[2]
Movements from Airservices Australia[3]

Melbourne Airport (IATA: MELICAO: YMML), also known as Tullamarine Airport, is the primary airport serving the city of Melbourne and the second busiest in Australia. It was opened in 1970 to replace the nearby Essendon Airport. Melbourne Airport is the sole international airport of the four airports serving the Melbourne metropolitan area.

The airport is 23 kilometres (14 mi) from the city centre. The airport has its own postcode—Melbourne Airport, Victoria (postcode 3045).[4] This is adjacent to the suburb of Tullamarine.

The Melbourne—Sydney air route is the fourth most-travelled passenger air route in the world[5] and the second busiest in the Asia Pacific region.[6] The airport features direct flights to 33 destinations in all states and territories of Australia in addition to numerous destinations in Oceania, Asia, Africa, Europe and North America. Melbourne is the most common destination for the airports of five of Australia's seven capital cities.N1 Melbourne serves as a major hub for Qantas and Virgin Australia, while Jetstar Airways and Tiger Airways Australia utilise the airport as home base. Melbourne is the busiest airport for international export freight as of August 2011, while second busiest for import freight.[7] Domestically, Melbourne serves as headquarters for Australian air Express and Toll Priority and handles more domestic freight than any other airport in the nation.[8]

In 2003, Melbourne received the International Air Transport Association Eagle Award for service and two National Tourism Awards for tourism services.[9][10][11] The airport comprises four terminals: one international terminal, two domestic terminals and one budget domestic terminal.




The main terminal building

Before the opening of Melbourne Airport, Melbourne's main airport was Essendon Airport which was officially designated an international airport in 1950. In the mid 1950s, over 10,000 passengers were using Essendon Airport and the limitations of Essendon Airport were beginning to become apparent. Essendon Airport's facilities were insufficient to meet the increasing demand for air travel; the runways were too short to handle the then new jet airliners and the terminals failed to handle the increase in passengers, by the mid 1950s, an international overflow terminal was built in a new northern hangar. Due to the encroachment of the urban boundary, the airport had become surrounded by residential housing, meaning that expansion of Essendon Airport was not possible.

The search for a replacement for Essendon commenced in February 1958, when a panel was appointed to assess Melbourne's civil aviation needs.[12] In May 1959 it was announced that a new airport would be built at Tullamarine, with Prime Minister Robert Menzies announcing on 27 November 1962 a five-year plan to provide Melbourne with a A$45 million "jetport" by 1967.[13][14] The first sod at Tullamarine turned in two years later in November 1964.[12] In line with the five-year plan, the runways at Essendon were expanded to handle larger aircraft, with Ansett Australia launched the Boeing 727 there in October 1964, the first jet aircraft used for domestic air travel in Australia.[15] Air Force One landed at Essendon on 22 December 1967, carrying United States President Lyndon B. Johnson.[16]

On 1 July 1970, Melbourne Airport was opened to international operations by Prime Minister John Gorton, ending Essendon's near 2 decade run as Melbourne International Airport. Essendon still was home to domestic flights for one year, until they were transferred to Melbourne Airport on 26 June 1971,[17] with the first arrival of a Boeing 747 occurring later that year.[18] In the first year of operations, Melbourne handled six international airlines and 155,275 international passengers.[18]

Melbourne Airport was originally called Tullamarine Airport, after the adjacent suburb of the same name. Tullamarine derives from the indigenous name Tullamareena.[15] International has sporadically been used in the name of the airport. After privatisation, the name changed to Melbourne Airport, following the lead of most other major Australian airports. Locally, the airport is commonly referred to as Tullamarine or simply as Tulla[19][20] to distinguish the airport from the other Melbourne airports: Avalon, Essendon and Moorabbin.

On opening Melbourne Airport consisted of three connected terminals: International in the centre, with Ansett to the left and TAA to the right. The design capacity of the airport was eight Boeing 707s at a rate of 500 passengers per hour, with minor expansion works completed in 1973 allowing Boeing 747s to serve the airport.[21] By the late 1980s peak passenger flows at the airport had reached 900 per hour, causing major congestion.[21]

In late 1989, Federal Airports Corporation Inspector A. Rohead was put in charge of a bicentennial project to rename streets in Melbourne Airport to honour the original inhabitants, European pioneers and aviation history. Information on the first two categories was provided by Ian Hunter, Wurundjeri researcher, and Ray Gibb, local historian. The project was completed but was shelved, with the only suggested name that was allocated being Gowrie Park Drive, named after the farm at the heart of the airport. During the 1920s the farm had been used as a landing site for aircraft, which were parked at night during World War II in case Essendon Aerodrome was bombed.[22]

Expansion and privatisation

Australian Airlines aircraft at Melbourne Airport in 1988.

In 1988, the Australian Government formed the Federal Airports Corporation (FAC), placing Melbourne Airport under the operational control of the new corporation along with 21 other airports around the nation.[18] In April 1994, the Australian Government announced that all airports operated by Federal Airports Corporation would be privatised in several phases.[23] Melbourne Airport was included in the first phase, being acquired by the newly formed Australia Pacific Airports Corporation Limited for $1.3 billion.[18] The transfer was completed on 30 June 1997 on a 50 year long-term lease, with the option for a further 49 years.[24] In July 1997, the Melbourne Airport website was launched, providing Australia's first real-time flight operations data over the internet.[18]

The first major upgrades at the airport were carried out at the domestic terminals,[18] with an expansion of the Ansett domestic terminal approved in 1989 and completed in 1991, adding a second pier added for use by smaller regional airlines.[25][26] Work on an upgrade of the international terminal commenced in 1991,[18] with the 'SkyPlaza' retail complex completed in late 1993 on a site flanking the main international departure gates. The rest of the work was completed in 1995, when the new three-level satellite concourse was opened at the end of the existing concourse. Diamond shaped and measuring 80-metres on each side, the additional 10 aerobridges provided by the expansion doubled the international passenger handing capacity at Melbourne Airport.[27]

Since privatisation, further improvements to infrastructure have begun at the airport, including expansion of runways, car parks and terminals. The multi-storey carpark outside the terminal was completed between 1995 and August 1997 at a cost of $49 million, providing 3100 carparks, the majority undercover.[18] This initially four-level structure replaced the previous open air carpark outside the terminal. Work commenced on the six-story 276 room Hilton Hotel (now Park Royal) above the carpark in January 1999, which was completed in mid-2000 at a cost of $55 million.[28] Expansion of the Qantas domestic terminal was completed in 1999, featuring a second pier and 9 additional aircraft stands.[28]

In December 2000 a fourth passenger terminal was opened: the Domestic Express Terminal, located to the south of the main terminal building at a cost of $9 million. It was the first additional passenger terminal facility to be built at Melbourne Airport since 1971.[29]

Expansion of carparks has also continued with a $40 million project commenced in 2004, doubling the size of the short term carpark with the addition of 2500 spaces over six levels, along with 1200 new spaces added to the 5000 already available in the long term carpark.[30] Revenue from retail operations at Melbourne Airport broke the $100 million mark for the first time in 2004, this being a 100 per cent increase in revenue since the first year of privatisation.[30]

Widening of the main main north/south runway by 15 metres was completed over a 29 day period in May 2005, enabling the operation of the Airbus A380.[31] The works were followed in March 2006 by a 5,000sqm expansion of Terminal 2, and the construction of an additional level of airline lounges above the terminal.[32] In 2008 a further 25,000sqm expansion of Terminal 2 commenced, costing $330 million with completion in 2011. The works added 5 additional aerobridges on a new passenger concourse, and a new 5,000sqm outbound passenger security and Customs processing zone.[33]


Melbourne Airport's terminals have 56 gates: 40 domestic and 16 international.[34] There are five dedicated freighter parking positions on the Southern Freighter Apron.[35] The current terminal numbering system was introduced in July 2005; they were previously known as Qantas Domestic, International, and South (formerly Ansett Domestic).[36]

Terminal 1

Qantas logo at the front of T1
The second pier at Terminal 1 was built in 1999.

Terminal 1 hosts domestic services for Qantas Group airlines, Qantas, Jetstar and QantasLink and is located to the northern end of the building. Departures are located on the first floor, while arrivals are located on the ground floor. The terminal has 16 parking bays served by aerobridges; 12 are served by single aerobridges whilst four are served by double aerobridges. There are another five non aerobridge gates, which are used by QantasLink and Jetstar.

Opened with Melbourne Airport in 1970 for Trans Australia Airlines, the terminal passed to Qantas in 1992 when they acquired the airline. Work on improving the original terminal commenced in October 1997 and was completed in late 1999 at a cost of cost $50 million,[28] featuring a second pier, stands for 9 additional aircraft, a extended access roadway and the expansion of the terminal.complete.[18]

Today, a wide range of shops and food outlets are situated at the end of the terminal near the entrance into Terminal 2. Qantas has a Qantas Club, Business Class and a Chairman's lounge in the terminal.[37][38]

Terminal 2

T2 International Terminal

Terminal 2 handles all international flights out of Melbourne Airport and the city and opened with the airport in 1970. The terminal has 16 gates with aerobridges, (although gates 18 & 20 are yet to be fitted). The terminal also has 2 standoff (non aerobridge) gates. Cathay Pacific, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas (which includes two lounges in Terminal 2, a First lounge and a Business lounge/Qantas Club), Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand/United Airlines and Emirates Airline all operate airline lounges in the terminal.[38]

The international terminal contains works by noted Australian Indigenous artists including Daisy Jugadai Napaltjarri and Gloria Petyarre.[39]

T2 International arrivals

A $330 million expansion programme for Terminal 2 was announced in 2007. The objectives of this project include new lounges and retail facilities, a new satellite terminal, increased luggage capacity and a redesign of customs and security areas.[40] A new satellite terminal features floor-to-ceiling windows offers views of the North-South runway. The new concourse includes three double-decker aerobridges, each accommodating an A380 aircraft or two smaller aircraft and one single aerobridge. The baggage handling capacity will be increased, and two new baggage carousels will cater to increased A380 traffic. Work commenced in November 2007 and will be completed in 2011.[41]

Although described as a satellite terminal, the terminal building is connected by an above-ground corridor to Terminal 2. Departures take place on the lower deck (similar to the A380 boarding lounges currently in use at Gates 9 and 11), with arrivals streamed on to the first floor to connect with the current first floor arrivals deck. All gates except for 18 and 20 are now handling passengers.

Terminal 3

Gate 13 used by Virgin Australia at T3

Terminal 3 – opened with the airport as the Ansett Australia terminal, but is now owned by Melbourne Airport. Terminal 3 is home to Virgin Australia and Regional Express Airlines. It currently has eleven parking bays served by single aerobridges and eight parking bays not equipped with aerobridges.

An expansion of the terminal was approved in 1989 and completed in 1991 when a second pier was added by Ansett to the south for use by smaller regional airline Kendell.[42][43] The terminal was used exclusively by the Ansett Group for all its domestic activities until its collapse in 2001. It was intended to be used by the "New" Ansett, under ownership of Tesna – however, following the Tesna group's withdrawal of the purchase of Ansett in 2002, the terminal was sold back to Melbourne Airport by Ansett's administrators.[44] As a result, Melbourne Airport undertook a major renovation and facelift of the terminal, following which Virgin Australia (then Virgin Blue) moved in from what was then called Domestic Express (now Terminal 4),[45] and has since began operating The Lounge in the terminal, using the former Ansett Australia Golden Wing Lounge area.[38][46] Regional Express also operates an airline lounge in the terminal.[47]

Terminal 4

Terminal 4 — originally called the Domestic Express or South Terminal — is dedicated to budget airlines and is the first facility of its kind at a conventional airport in Australia. It was originally constructed for Virgin Blue (Virgin Australia) and Impulse Airlines. Virgin Blue eventually moved into Terminal 3 following the demise of Ansett.[48] A $5 million refit began in June 2007[49] along the lines of the budget terminal model at Singapore Changi Airport and Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Lower landing and airport handling fees are charged to airlines due to the basic facilities, lack of jet bridges, and fewer amenities and retail outlets compared to a conventional terminal. However, the terminal is located next to the main terminal building, unlike in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. The terminal was rebuilt by Tiger Airways Australia, which has used it as its main hub since it operated its first domestic flight on 23 November 2007.[50]

Jetstar Airways confirmed its involvement in discussions with Melbourne Airport regarding the expansion of terminal facilities to accommodate for the growth of domestic low-cost services. The proposed expansion of Terminal 4 includes infrastructure to accommodate Tiger Airways Australia and Jetstar Airways flights. These plans are currently in development, and the expansion of Terminal 4 would include the relocation of the current freight centre. If approved, the development is expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars and take five years to complete.[20]

Southern Freighter Apron

The Southern Freighter Apron has five dedicated freighter parking positions which host 21 dedicated freighter operations a week.[35] In August 1997, the fifth freighter parking position and the apron was extended.[18]

Airlines and destinations

Overview of Terminal 1 with Qantas and Jetstar aircraft
Tiger Airways Australia A320 taxiing from T4
Jetstar Airbus A321-200 ready to take off from Runway 27
A Skywest Fokker 100 parked at Melbourne during a turn-around
Airlines Destinations Terminal
Air Australia Honolulu [begins 14 December], Phuket 2
Air Australia Brisbane [begins 15 December][51] TBA
Air China Beijing-Capital, Shanghai-Pudong 2
Air Mauritius Mauritius 2
Air New Zealand Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington
Seasonal: Queenstown
Air Pacific Nadi 2
Air Vanuatu Port Vila 2
AirAsia X Kuala Lumpur 2
Cathay Pacific Hong Kong1 2
China Eastern Airlines Shanghai-Pudong 2
China Eastern Airlines operated by Shanghai Airlines Shanghai-Pudong[52] 2
China Southern Airlines Guangzhou 2
Emirates Auckland, Dubai, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore 2
Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi 2
Garuda Indonesia Denpasar/Bali, Jakarta-Soekarno-Hatta 2
Jetstar Airways Adelaide, Brisbane, Ballina, Cairns, Darwin, Gold Coast, Hamilton Island, Hobart, Launceston, Newcastle, Perth, Sunshine Coast, Sydney, Townsville 1
Jetstar Airways Auckland, Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Beijing-Capital [begins 24 November][53], Christchurch, Denpasar/Bali, Honolulu,[54] Queenstown, Singapore, Sydney 2
Korean Air Seoul-Incheon 2
Malaysia Airlines Kuala Lumpur 2
Norfolk Air operated by Our Airline Norfolk Island 2
Philippine Airlines Manila1 2
Qantas Adelaide, Alice Springs, Brisbane, Broome, Cairns, Canberra, Darwin, Hobart, Karratha, Perth, Port Hedland,[55] Sydney 1
Qantas Auckland, Hong Kong, London-Heathrow, Los Angeles, Singapore
Seasonal: Queenstown
Qantas operated by Jetconnect Auckland, Wellington 2
Qantas operated by QantasLink Adelaide, Canberra, Devonport, Launceston, Mildura 1
Qatar Airways Doha 2
Regional Express Airlines Albury, Burnie, Griffith, King Island, Merimbula, Mildura, Mount Gambier, Wagga Wagga 3
Royal Brunei Airlines Bandar Seri Begawan[56] 2
Singapore Airlines Singapore 2
Skywest Airlines Geraldton [Begins 11 December [57]], Kalgoorlie, Perth 3
Thai Airways International Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi 2
Tiger Airways Australia Brisbane, Gold Coast, Perth[58], Sydney 4
United Airlines Los Angeles1 2
Vietnam Airlines Ho Chi Minh City 2
Virgin Australia Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Canberra, Coffs Harbour, Darwin, Gold Coast, Hobart, Launceston, Mildura, Newcastle, Perth, Sunshine Coast, Sydney 3
Virgin Australia operated by Pacific Blue Auckland, Christchurch, Denpasar/Bali, Nadi
Seasonal: Dunedin[59]
Virgin Australia operated by V Australia Los Angeles 2
  • ^1 These flights may make an intermediate stop en route to their listed final destination; however the airlines have no traffic rights to carry passengers solely between Melbourne and the intermediate Australian stop.

Cargo services

The following airlines operate cargo-only services from Melbourne Airport’s Southern Freighter Apron:

Atlas Air Boeing 747 on the Southern Freighter Apron
Airlines Destinations
Australian air Express Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Canberra, Gold Coast, Hobart, Launceston, Perth, Sydney, Townsville
Cargo Garuda Indonesia Jakarta-Soekarno-Hatta
Cathay Pacific Cargo Hong Kong, Sydney
MASkargo Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta-Soekarno-Hatta, Sydney
Qantas Freight Auckland
Qantas Freight operated by Atlas Air Auckland, Chicago-O'Hare, Hong Kong, Honolulu, New York-JFK[60]
Singapore Airlines Cargo Adelaide, Auckland, Singapore
Toll Priority Brisbane, Perth, Sydney
Toll Priority operated by Toll Aviation Adelaide, Brisbane, Sydney

Other facilities

Hilton Melbourne International Airport, now known as the Parkroyal

Melbourne Airport is served by four hotels. A Parkroyal Hotel is located 100 metres (330 ft) from Terminal 2 atop the multi-level carpark. Work commenced on the six-story 280 room hotel in January 1999, which was completed in mid-2000.[28] The hotel was originally a Hilton but was relaunched as the Parkroyal on 4 April 2011.[61] Holiday Inn has an outlet located 400 metres (1,300 ft) from the terminal precinct. Motel Formule 1 offers lodgings located 600 metres (2,000 ft) from the terminals. Mantra Tullamarine opened in 2009, 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) from the terminal precinct.[62]


The T2 sign

Melbourne is the second busiest airport in Australia. The airport is curfew-free and operates 24 hours a day, although between 2 am and 4 am, freight aircraft are more prevalent than passenger flights.[63] In 2004, the environmental management systems were accredited ISO 14001, the world's best practice standard, making it the first airport in Australia to receive such accreditation.[64]

Melbourne Airport terminal precinct

Airbus A380

Construction works were undertaken to prepare the airport for the arrival of the double-decker Airbus A380. The A380 has been purchased by several airlines using the airport, namely Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Thai Airways, Vietnam Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Korean Air, Etihad Airways and Emirates. The improvements included the construction of dual airbridges (Gates 9 and 11) with the ability to board both decks simultaneously to reduce turnaround times, the widening of the North-South runway and remote stands and taxiways by 15 metres (49 ft), the extension of the international terminal building by 20 metres (66 ft) to include new penthouse airline lounges, and the construction of an additional baggage carousel in the arrivals hall. As a result the airport was the first in Australia to be capable of handling the A380.[65] The A380 made its first test flight into the airport on 14 November 2005.[66] On 15 May 2008 the A380 made its first passenger flight into the airport when a Singapore Airlines Sydney-bound flight was diverted from Sydney Airport because of fog.[67]

Beginning services in October 2008, Qantas was the first airline to operate the A380 from the airport, flying nonstop to Los Angeles International Airport twice a week. This was the inaugural route for the Qantas A380.[68] Qantas was followed by Singapore Airlines, who now opearates the A380 daily to Singapore Changi Airport. Singapore Airlines services began on 29 September 2009.[69] Emirates intend to fly the A380 to Dubai International Airport from March 2012.[70]

The A380 at the airport for the first time as part of the testing programme


Melbourne Airport has two intersecting runways: one 3,657 metres (11,998 ft) north–south and one 2,286 metres (7,500 ft) east–west. Due to increasing traffic, several runway expansions are planned, including an 843 metres (2,766 ft) extension of the North-South runway to lengthen it to 4,500 metres (14,800 ft), and a 1,214 metres (3,983 ft) extension of the east–west runway to a total of 3,500 metres (11,500 ft).[71] Two new runways are also planned: a 3,000 metres (9,800 ft) runway parallel to the current north–south runway[71] and a 3,000 metres (9,800 ft) runway south of the current east–west runway.[71] Traffic movement is expected to reach 248,000 per annum by 2017, necessitating a third runway.[72]

On 5 June 2008, it was announced that the airport would install a Category III landing system, allowing planes to land in low visibility conditions, such as fog. This system will be the first of its kind in Australia,[73] and was commissioned March 2010 at a cost of $10 million.[12]

Aerial shot of the airport showing runway, taxiway and terminal layout

Awards and accolades

Melbourne Airport has received numerous awards. The International Air Transport Association ranked Melbourne among the top five airports in the world in 1997 and 1998[74][75] and, in 2003, presented it with the Eagle Award.[9][76] The Australian Airport Association named it the Airport of the Year in 1999,[75] while Business Traveller Magazine and Airports Council International have ranked Melbourne in the top ten every year from 1996 to 2000[75][77] and in the top five for airports that handle between 15 and 25 million passengers.[78][79]

The airport has received recognition in other areas. It has won national and state tourism awards,[10][11] and Singapore Airlines presented the airport with the Service Partner Award and Premier Business Partner Award in 2002 and 2004, respectively.[75][80] In 2006, the airport won the Australian Construction Achievement Award for the runway widening project, dubbed "the most outstanding example of construction excellence for 2006".[81]

Melbourne Centre

In addition to the onsite control tower, the airport is home to Melbourne Centre, an air traffic control facility that is responsible for the separation of aircraft in Australia's busiest flight information region, Melbourne FIR. Melbourne FIR monitors airspace over Victoria, Tasmania, southern New South Wales, most of South Australia, the southern half of Western Australia and airspace over the Indian and Southern Ocean. In total, the centre controls 6% of the world's airspace.[82] The airport is also the home of the Canberra approach and Melbourne approach facilities, which provide control services to aircraft arriving and departing at those airports.

Traffic and statistics

Melbourne Airport recorded more than 26.3 million passengers in 2009–10. 5.54 million of those were international, with the remaining 20.63 million being domestic. There were 195,900 aircraft movements, the vast majority being domestic passenger services.[3] In the long term, the compounded average annual growth rate (CAAGR) for passenger movements is between 3.3% and 4.3%. For aircraft movements, the CAAGR is between 1.8% and 2.6%.[71] This firmly entrenches Melbourne as Australia's second busiest airport, ahead of Brisbane[83] and behind Sydney.[84]

The following table lists passenger statistics for Melbourne Airport. Forecast statistics are in dark grey.

Annual passenger statistics for Melbourne Airport[3][71][85]
Year Passenger movements (millions) Aircraft movements (thousands)
1997–98 14.20 154.13
1998–99 14.58 156.80
1999–00 15.57 164.67
2000–01 17.24 187.36
2001–02 16.48 157.60
2002–03 16.92 157.92
2003–04 19.16 165.26
2004–05 20.78 180.51
2005–06 21.43 179.51
2006–07 22.50 180.16
2007–08 24.26 193.83
2008–09 24.77 195.02
2009–10 26.29 195.90
2010–11 28.19 195.90
2012–13 27.4–29.8 203.0–217.0
2017–18 32.5–37.1 223.9–247.4
2022–23 38.5–45.8 243.9–281.7
2027–28 43.9–54.9 263.2–316.5
Busiest international freight routes out of Melbourne Airport (FY 2009)[86]
Rank Airport Freight tonnes handled  % Change
1 Singapore Singapore Changi Airport 50,751.8 decrease3.3
2 Hong Kong Hong Kong International Airport 36,450.4 increase4.7
3 New Zealand Auckland Airport 24,105.8 decrease22.8
4 Malaysia Kuala Lumpur International Airport 19,712.7 decrease6.4
5 Thailand Suvarnabhumi Airport 17,237.8 increase4.3
6 United Arab Emirates Dubai International Airport 13,692.6 increase4.1
7 United States Los Angeles International Airport 5,663.1 decrease15.8
8 United States O'Hare International Airport 3,189.5 decrease52.5
9 China Shanghai Pudong International Airport 2,902.5 increase22.3
10 Indonesia Ngurah Rai International Airport 2,456.0 decrease18.9
Busiest international passenger routes out of Melbourne Airport (YE June 2010)[86]
Rank Airport Passengers handled  % Change
1 Singapore Singapore Changi Airport 911,714 increase6.0
2 New Zealand Auckland Airport 755,148 increase1.3
3 Malaysia Kuala Lumpur International Airport 608,525 increase50.9
4 Hong Kong Hong Kong International Airport 501,856 decrease0.5
5 Thailand Suvarnabhumi Airport 378,616 increase4.0
6 United States Los Angeles International Airport 333,535 increase13.6
7 United Arab Emirates Dubai International Airport 338,404 increase2.6
8 New Zealand Christchurch International Airport 309,314 increase9.6
9 Indonesia Ngurah Rai International Airport 176,477 increase22.7
10 United Kingdom London Heathrow Airport 152,745 decrease22.5
Busiest domestic passenger routes out of Melbourne Airport (YE October 2010)[87]
Rank Airport Passengers handled  % Change
1 New South Wales Sydney Airport 7,862,800 increase13.6
2 Queensland Brisbane Airport 2,944,700 increase9.1
3 South Australia Adelaide Airport 2,197,000 increase2.7
4 Queensland Gold Coast Airport 1,714,600 increase6.4
5 Western Australia Perth Airport 1,702,000 decrease2.4
6 Tasmania Hobart International Airport 1,212,500 increase0.0
7 Australian Capital Territory Canberra International Airport 1,131,200 increase3.2
8 Tasmania Launceston Airport 832,500 increase0.1
9 Queensland Cairns Airport 427,000 increase4.3
10 Queensland Sunshine Coast Airport 393,500 decrease6.1



Melbourne Airport is 23 kilometres (14 mi) from the city centre and is accessible via CityLink and the Tullamarine Freeway. One freeway offramp runs directly into the airport grounds, and a second to the south serves freight transport, taxis, buses and airport staff.[88] Melbourne Airport has five car parks, all of which operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The short-term, multi-level long-term, business and express carparks are covered, while the long-term parking is not.[89] The main multi-level carpark in front of the terminal was built in the late 1990s, replacing the pre-existing ground-level car parking.[28] It has been progressively expanded ever since.

A Skybus Super Shuttle leaving a bus terminal at Melbourne Airport.

Public transport

The Skybus Super Shuttle service is the main public transport link to the airport, taking approximately 20 minutes to reach Southern Cross Station in the Melbourne central business district. From Southern Cross, travellers can access V/Line regional and Metro Trains Melbourne suburban trains, Yarra Trams and interstate train and bus services.

There are four local bus services to Melbourne Airport. The route 901 SmartBus service was introduced in September 2010,[90] and is much more frequent than the other local bus services.[91]

There are nine other bus companies serving the airport, with services to Ballarat, Bendigo, Dandenong, Frankston, Mornington Peninsula, Geelong, Melbourne's suburbs, Shepparton and the Riverina.[92] These provide alternatives to transfer onto V/Line services.

Rail link

The possibility of installing a rail link from what was known as the Broadmeadows (now the Craigieburn Suburban Line) to the airport was debated in the 1960s, but little progress was made.


In 2001, the state government investigated the construction of a heavy rail link to the airport under the Linking Victoria programme. Two options were considered; the first branched off the Craigieburn Suburban Line to the east, and the second branched off the Albion Goods Line, which passes close to the airport's boundary to the south. The second option was preferred.[94] Market research concluded most passengers preferred traveling to the airport by taxi or car, and poor patronage of similar links in Sydney and Brisbane cast doubt on the viability of the project.[95] This led to the project being deferred until at least 2012. On 21 July 2008, the Premier of Victoria reaffirmed the government's commitment to a rail link and said that it would be considered within three to five years.[96] To maximise future development options, the airport is lobbying for the on-grounds section of the railway to be underground.[71][97]

In 2010, Martin Pakula of the Labor Party, newly appointed State Minister for Public Transport announced that the rail link had been taken off the agenda with new freeway options being explored instead,[93][98] however a change of government at the 2010 Victorian State Election to Liberals, saw policy for the introduction of the rail link return to the agenda, with a promise by the incoming Coalition government to undertake planning for its construction.[99]

Accidents and incidents

  • On 21 February 2005, a mystery illness caused the evacuation and closure of what was then the South Terminal. The incident began at 7:10 am when a female collapsed in the terminal building. The terminal was closed at 10:10 am because several individuals exhibited symptoms and were hospitalised. In all, 57 individuals were treated by ambulance officers, 47 of whom were hospitalised. All flights landing at the affected terminal were bused to the Patrick Freight facility and unloaded. The South Terminal reopened at 6 pm. The mystery illness was never determined.[102][103]
  • On 20 March 2009, Emirates Airline Flight 407, an Airbus A340-500, was taking off from Melbourne Airport on Runway 16 for a flight to Dubai International Airport and failed to become airborne in the normal distance. When the aircraft was nearing the end of the runway, the crew commanded nose-up sharply, causing its tail to scrape along the runway as it became airborne, during which smoke was observed in the cabin. The crew dumped fuel and returned to the airport. The damage caused to the aircraft was considered substantial. The aircraft damaged a strobe light at the end of the runway as well as an antenna on the localiser, which led to the ILS being out of service for some time causing some disruptions to the airport's operation.[104]
  • On 18 May 2011, an anonymous security threat was made against Melbourne and Avalon airports. The threat was delivered as a letter to the Herald Sun and other Melbourne media outlets, prompting state and federal police to "swarm the airport".[105]

Avalon Airport

When Jetstar was established in 2004, it decided to operate flights to Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth and Sydney from Avalon rather than Melbourne Airport.[106] This made Melbourne the only city in Australia with two commercially served airports and generated airport competition for the first time in an Australian city. To compete with Avalon, Melbourne established the Budget Terminal and lowered landing fees, which made it the cheapest arrival point in Australia[107] and one of the cheapest international airports in the world.[108] Since then, Jetstar has moved its Perth and Adelaide flights to Melbourne Airport.

AirAsia X was widely expected to launch international flights to Kuala Lumpur from Avalon in October 2008.[109] However, Linfox's proposal to upgrade Avalon's international facilities was rejected on 5 June 2008,[110] which prompted AirAsia X to announce flights from Melbourne Airport on 20 August 2008.[111] Linfox vowed to resolve the Government's concerns and build the terminal,[110] but on 14 November 2008, announced that upgrading Avalon to handle international flights would no longer be viable due to the government's resistance.[112] Then on 10 March 2009, Linfox announced that Avalon would indeed handle international flights within two years and the Government would approve of a $50 million terminal by the end of 2009[citation needed].

See also


  1. ^ The airport is the number one destination for Perth, Adelaide, Hobart, Canberra and Sydney airports. It is not the number one destination for Brisbane or Darwin airports, where it falls second.[87]


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