Melbourne Airport

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Currently situated at tullamurine, approximately 30 km from the CBD of Melbourne, the first international airport was actually at Essendon until the 1970s.

It is now the main airport serving the city of Melbourne and the second busiest in Australia after Sydney Airport., and is the main international airport for the four airports serving the Melbourne metropolitan area, the other being Avalon Airport.

The airport consists of 4 terminals: 1 international terminal, 2 domestic terminals and 1 cheap domestic terminal. It is 23 km northwest of the city center and borders the outskirts of Tullamarine. The airport has its own suburb and zip code: Melbourne Airport, Victoria.

Many international passengers use the airport, but the domestic Melbourne-Sydney air route is the third busiest passenger air route in the world. The airport offers direct flights to 33 domestic destinations as well as to destinations in the Pacific, Europe, Asia, North America and South America. Melbourne Airport is the main arrival/departure point for airports in four of the other seven Australian capital cities. Melbourne serves as the main hub for Qantas and Virgin Australia, and Jetstar uses the airport as its home base. Nationally, Melbourne serves as the headquarters for Australian AirExpress and Thor Priority, handling more domestic cargo than any other airport in the country.

As described above, Essendon Airport was previously the international airport, and it officially became an international airport in 1950. By the mid-1950s, more than 10,000 passengers had used Essendon Airport, but its limitations became obvious. Essendon’s facilities were inadequate to meet the growing demand for air travel. The runway was too short to handle the jets and the terminal could not keep up with the increase in passengers. In the mid-1950s, an international overflow terminal was built in the new northern hangar. The airport was surrounded by residential areas and could not be expanded.

The search for alternatives to Essendon was named in February 1958 by a jury to assess Melbourne’s civil aviation demand. Alternative sites considered were Tullamarine, Whittlesea, Hastings, Port Melbourne, Werribee, Laverton, Avalon and Moorabbin. Considerations such as the good proximity to Melbourne and the low development costs have restricted the choice to Tullamarine. In 1959, the Commonwealth government purchased 5,300 hectares of meadows in the then rural Tullamarine District.

Prime Minister John Gorton opened Melbourne Airport in July 1970 to international operations ending Essendon’s near two decade run as Melbourne’s international airport. Melbourne Airport was originally called ‘Melbourne International Airport’. It is at Tullamarine, a name derived from the indigenous name Tullamareena. Locally, the airport is commonly referred to as Tullamarine or simply as Tulla to distinguish the airport from the other three Melbourne airports: Avalon, Essendon and Moorabbin.

On opening, Melbourne Airport consisted of three connected terminals: International in the centre, with Ansett to the South and Trans Australia Airlines to the North. 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. By the late 1980s peak passenger flows at the airport had reached 900 per hour, causing major congestion.

There have been a few upgrades at the airport. The first major upgrade to the domestic terminal was an extension of Ansett’s domestic terminal, approved in 1989, completed in 1991 and added a second marina for use by small regional airlines. Work on the modernization of the international terminal began in 1991, and the shopping complex “SkyPlaza” was completed at the end of 1993 around the main international departure gates. The rest of the work was completed in 1995 and a new three-story satellite hall was opened at the end of the existing hall. Diamond shaped and measuring 80 m on each side, the additional 10 aerobridges provided by the expansion doubled the international passenger handing capacity at Melbourne Airport.

In April 1994, the Australian Government announced that all airports operated by FAC would be privatized in several phases. Melbourne Airport was included in the first phase, being acquired by the newly formed Australia Pacific Airports Corporation Limited for $1.3 billion. The transfer was completed on 30 June 1997 on a 50-year long-term lease, with the option for a further 49 years. Melbourne Airport is categorized as a Leased Commonwealth Airport.

Since privatization, 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 3,100 parking spaces, the majority undercover. This initially four-level structure replaced the previous open air carpark outside the terminal. Work commenced on the six-story 276-room Hilton Hotel above the carpark in January 1999, which was completed in mid-2000 at a cost of $55 million. Expansion of the Qantas domestic terminal was completed in 1999, featuring a second pier and 9 additional aircraft stands. In December 2000, at a cost of $9 million, a fourth passenger terminal, the Domestic Terminal, opened to the south of the main terminal building. It is the first passenger terminal built at Melbourne Airport since 1971

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