Melbourne Airport: getting ready for the next 20 years

Published on : Monday, July 3, 2017

Melbourne airportOn the 20th anniversary of the privatisation of Melbourne Airport, Chief Executive Officer Lyell Strambi has a clear message for Australia’s fastest-growing capital.

“Melbourne is on track to be Australia’s biggest city – by some estimates as soon as 2029. With the division of growth over two airports in Sydney, it makes sense that Melbourne Airport will have to be Australia’s biggest airport as well.

“Since 1997 Melbourne’s population has grown by 40 per cent, from 3.3 million to 4.6 million. Over that same period, passenger volumes through Melbourne Airport have more than doubled, from just under 14 million in 1997 to more than 35 million passengers in the past 12 months.

“International travel has blossomed – in 1997 one passenger in every seven was travelling internationally, today that number is almost one in three.

“Along the way we’ve developed the airport asset to accommodate each new wave of growth.

“Privatisation of Australia’s major airports unlocked the investment that was essential to meeting the challenges brought by dramatic changes in global aviation. The traveller experience and operating efficiency has improved enormously and airports have played a major part in the travel boom.

“Today, the airport plays a major role in the Victorian economy, as each daily international service injects between $100 million and $150 million into Victoria per year.

“Melbourne Airport is also one of the largest local employment zones outside of the CBD, supporting more than 16,000 jobs directly on the estate, and more than 40,000 indirectly throughout Victoria,” said Mr Strambi.

“The airport is such a vitally important asset that all Victorians can feel proud of, and its value today is a testament to the long-term vision of its planners back in the 1950s. Those planners made great choices in the placement of the airport and the protection of the surrounds to prevent operational constraints.

“The fact that Melbourne remains a 24/7 curfew-free operation gives us an invaluable competitive advantage – today it allows around an extra two million passengers each year, and it’s an essential cog in Victoria’s export machinery.

“What’s really exciting for us today is looking at the next 20-year horizon and planning what comes next. To start with, passenger numbers can be expected to double again over the next 20 years.

“It’s crucial that the airport is never a constraint on Melbourne’s, or Victoria’s, prosperity.
“Melbourne Airport will spend over $500m per year, every year, to improve, maintain and grow this essential piece of Victorian infrastructure.

“As our airport welcomes millions more passengers, we need to make sure the traveller journey through the airport as seamless and enjoyable as the rest of the trip – whether that’s arriving passengers on their first visit to our city, or departing passengers who want to take a lasting memory of Melbourne with them.

“That traveller experience extends beyond the terminal. There’s no point in having an airport that can process 60 million passengers if no one can get here. So we need to think about ground transport options and the road infrastructure needed on the airport to facilitate the efficient movement of millions more travellers.

“Recent commitments from both Federal and State Governments to a feasibility study for the rail link are a welcome first step and something we have been lobbying for– the opportunity is now in front of us to progress this important link in Victoria’s transport network.
“To set us up for the next 20 years of growth we need runway capacity.

“A new runway, along with improvements to the capabilities of existing runways and taxiways, is vital infrastructure that will facilitate continued growth in airline services, particularly from international carriers upgrading their fleets with efficient new-generation aircraft.

“In addition to the airfield, we need to continue investing in new terminal capacity, ensuring that the traveller experience through every terminal of our airport is of the standard an increasingly discerning travelling public has come to expect from international airports.

“This will see us investing in additional automation across domestic and international terminals, helping to streamline check-in and immigration processes by removing queues, and helping airlines manage costs through more efficient staffing.

“And realistically, we’re going to have to start talking about adding a fifth terminal as well.
“The traveller experience inside the terminals is already changing rapidly.

“Our new T2 luxury retail precinct will open later this year, bringing to life Melbourne’s iconic shopping experience right here inside the airport.

“And we’ll be bringing a whole new look to the interior of our terminals, with renovations about to start on a reinvigorated T2 departures concourse, and a new international arrivals hall that delivers the kind of first impression Melbourne really deserves.”


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