Melbourne Airport Soars as Australia’s Biggest Air Freight Hub

A DHL Express freighter on the ground in Melbourne.
Mitchul Hope, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Melbourne Airport has cemented its position as the national leader for Australian exports.

Boasting a significant increase that surpasses pre-pandemic levels, the airport facilitated the export of over $1.8 billion worth of locally-produced goods in the first quarter of 2024.

This impressive achievement is further underscored by Melbourne Airport’s role. The capital city airport handled 40.2% of Australia’s total air-freight export volume during the same period.

With 44,700 tonnes of local cargo taking flight, Melbourne, Australia’s largest curfew-free airport, stands out as a crucial facilitator of trade.

Melbourne’s Export Powerhouse

Data from Maritrade reveals that fresh meat reigns supreme as the top export by volume. The airport facilitated a staggering 15,649 tonnes delivered to international markets.

However, pharmaceutical products hold the crown for export value, exceeding a remarkable $258.4 million in goods shipped overseas.

Melbourne Airport signage.
Photo Credit: Melbourne Airport

Passenger Recovery Gains Momentum

The strategic partnership between Melbourne Airport and the Victorian Government to bolster international airline capacity is proving instrumental.

A significant portion of this cargo is transported within passenger planes, highlighting the initiative’s success.

Continuing this positive trend, Melbourne Airport welcomed 885,365 international passengers in April 2024. It also set new monthly records in February and March.

While this figure represents a 14% increase compared to April 2023, it remains slightly below pre-pandemic levels, reaching 94% of the international travelers received in April 2019.

Domestic traffic, on the other hand, has seen a more modest year-on-year increase of just 3%.

This can likely be attributed to the lack of additional capacity within the domestic market, leading to higher fares and a dampening effect on travel demand.

Mitchul Hope, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A Catalyst for Victorian Prosperity

Melbourne Airport Chief of Aviation, Jim Parashos, emphasizes the airport’s critical role in propelling Victorian industry forward.

“These figures translate to countless jobs across the state, from farms and factories to cutting-edge laboratories,” he states.

Parashos further highlights the significance of Melbourne’s curfew-free operations, pointing out that the average daily international flight contributes a staggering $154 million to the state’s economy.

He underscores the importance of attracting new airlines, routes, and increased flight frequencies, as each addition translates to additional cargo capacity and job creation across Victoria.

To ensure Melbourne Airport can effectively cater to the state’s growing population and continue supporting key industries, a plan for a third runway was submitted to the Federal Government in February 2023.

This expansion is crucial for maintaining Melbourne’s position as a thriving export hub and a vital gateway for international travel.

A Virgin aircraft takes off from Melbourne Airport.
Photo Credit: Melbourne Airport

Melbourne Airport: Summary

Melbourne Airport, Australia’s busiest passenger airport, is a vital hub for both domestic and international travel.

Located in Tullamarine, northwest of Melbourne’s city center, it serves as a key link connecting Victoria to the world.

Leading the Way in Exports: Melbourne Airport plays a critical role in facilitating Australian exports. Boasting curfew-free operations, it allows for efficient cargo movement, making it a leader in the national air freight market.

Passenger Traffic on the Rise: Passenger numbers are steadily recovering, with the airport welcoming a growing number of international travelers.

Partnerships with airlines are fostering increased capacity and route options. Domestic travel is also on the rise, though limited by market constraints.

A Catalyst for the Victorian Economy: The airport is a significant economic driver for Victoria, supporting thousands of jobs across various sectors.

From fresh produce exports to pharmaceutical goods, Melbourne Airport acts as a vital link between Victorian industries and international markets.

Looking to the Future: With a vision to accommodate future growth, Melbourne Airport has proposed the development of a third runway.

This expansion aims to solidify its position as a premier airfreight hub and a thriving international gateway.

This section provides a general overview of Melbourne Airport, highlighting its key functions, economic importance, and future plans.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 5 Min Read
5 Min Read
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