Australia’s Melbourne Airport plans for future expansion with 2022 Master Plan

Virgin Australia aircraft parked at Melbourne Airport at night.
Photo Credit: Melbourne Airport

LONDON – Australia’s Melbourne Airport (formerly Tullamarine Airport) has welcomed the approval of its 2022 Master Plan by the Federal Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government.

The 2022 Master Plan is a high-level, strategic document that will help guide development of the airport precinct for the next 20 years and beyond.

The Airport, servicing the capital city of the eastern Australian state of Victoria is a key international gateway to the country, and the Master Plan together with current runway maintenance works, is set to take the airport into the next two decades.

A proposed four runway layout

Consistent with previous Melbourne Airport Master Plans, the 2022 Master Plan safeguards for an ultimate four runway layout but changes the order in which new runways will be built.

The 2022 Master Plan confirms Melbourne Airport’s third runway being built in a north-south direction, with safeguarding for a fourth runway in an east-west direction in what’s known as the “hashtag configuration”.

Melbourne Airport now plans to submit its proposal to build the third runway to the Commonwealth for consideration early in the new year.

Melbourne as a primary international gateway

Melbourne Airport Chief Executive Officer Lorie Argus said the updated Master Plan would help ensure Victoria’s primary international gateway remains fit for purpose.

“The 2022 Master Plan outlines our long-term vision for Melbourne Airport and identifies the infrastructure we need to keep pace with Victoria’s growing population,” she said.

“Australia’s vast distances and Melbourne’s position on the globe mean air travel is essential to connect people, goods and business, and it’s important to make this as easy as possible.

“Key to this is construction of a third runway, which will improve the efficiency of the airfield by introducing parallel operations, while also allowing the airport to cater for increased demand.

“Alongside the 2022 Master Plan we are developing a sustainability strategy, with a commitment to net zero (Scope 1 and 2) by 2025, work underway on Scope 3 emissions reduction and a commitment to circular economy principles including on major infrastructure.”

It is important to note that approval of the 2022 Master Plan does not imply approval of the third runway Major Development Plan.

A decision on the third runway Major Development Plan is expected around the middle of next year and is subject to Commonwealth Government timelines.

Current runway maintenance works

Instrumental in the development plan into the future, Melbourne Airport has been engaged in maintenance works on its present two runway configuration.

Specifically, as part of the ongoing maintenance program, Melbourne Airport is undertaking works to replace approximately 2,500 metres of the asphalt section of the existing main north-south runway (Runway 16/34).

This is safety-critical, preventive maintenance work that is projected to maintain the runway in a sound condition to support aircraft movements over the next 10-12 years.  

The Airport has projected that these closures will take place five nights a week for between 6.5 and 8 hours for approximately 11 months from November 2022.

Depending on the work activities being undertaken, work will begin around 10.30pm and will be completed between 5am and 6.30am the next morning. During these night-time closures, aircraft will use the east-west runway (Runway 09/27).

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