Melbourne Airport Unveils Third Runway Proposals

The new runway will be 'critical' to the region’s future tourism, freight and population needs, according to the Australian airport’s CEO.

Credit: Melbourne Airport

Melbourne Airport (MEL) is pushing ahead with plans to build a third runway to cope with an expected doubling of passenger numbers over the next two decades.

The new 3000-m runway will run parallel to the existing north-south runway and will increase the airport’s capacity by allowing for simultaneous arrivals and departures. Construction will necessitate the shortening of the east-west runway and require changes to flight paths.

Melbourne Airport CEO Lyell Strambi said the existing two-runway configuration was nearing capacity before the onset of the pandemic, and as aviation recovers the third runway will be essential to cope with future demand.  

The airport expects annual passenger numbers will grow to more than 76 million by 2042—up from about 34 million before the coronavirus crisis.

“Prior to COVID-19, airlines and their customers frequently experienced delays in peak periods due to the airport’s congested cross-runway system,” Strambi said.  

“Having a parallel runway approved soon is critical so we can cater to Victoria’s future tourism, freight and population needs.  

“The approvals process can take a number of years, with construction expected to take another four to five years, which is why we are moving forward with the proposal now.”

Melbourne Airport has launched a preliminary draft masterplan and major development plan. A formal public exhibition period is running from Feb. 1 through May 16.

If approved, the airport estimates the construction and operation of the third runway will create 37,000 jobs throughout Victoria and contribute an additional $4.6 billion per annum to gross state product by 2046. 

Strambi added: “The third runway will deliver significant economic benefits to the state by enabling more interstate and overseas travelers to visit Victoria, while securing our position as one of the largest cargo hubs in Australia.” 

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