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Melbourne Airport’s New Third Runway (Explainer)

Melbourne Airport’s new third runway presents many opportunities for the industry, so here’s what you need to know about the proposed development.

Melbourne Airport (MEL) is the second busiest airport in Australia and the main airport of Melbourne. On 2 February 2022, the Airport released the details of a plan to build a new third runway.

Below, we’ll explain what you need to know about the third runway, and what benefits it is proposed to bring to Victoria, and the wider Australian economy.

Why is Melbourne Airport building a third runway?

Melbourne Airport currently operates using two runways. According to Lyell Strambi, the Airport’s CEO, the two-runway configuration of the airport was nearing its full capacity before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the aviation industry.

Passengers used to frequently experience delays on their flights because the airport’s runways were running at overcapacity. But as the pandemic begins to fade away into the ashes of history, Strambi foresees the recovery of the aviation industry and believes that a third runway would be vital to meet future demands.

Although it may seem too early to think about the end of the global pandemic, Strambi follows up his statements by mentioning that the approval process of plans like these would take years – not including the additional four to five years it would take to complete construction.

Strambi believes that the construction of the third runway will bring notable benefits to the state such as:

• allowing more tourists both from inside and outside the state to visit Victoria

• retaining the Airport’s position as one of Australia’s largest cargo hubs

• provide around 37,000 jobs during its construction and operation; and

• increasing the gross state product by $4.6 billion per annum by the year 2046.

Where is the new runway’s flight path?

According to the masterplan of the Melbourne Airport, the new third runway is slated to be 3,000 meters, running from north to south.

This is expected to change the existing flight paths of the airport.

We can expect greater levels of noise across Hume and specifically in the township of Bulla (which only sits just north of the runway). Bulla may be faced with experiencing 20 plus daily occurrences of aircraft. The suburbs of Keilor, St Albans and Tottenham are also expected to experience more noise.

The new runway will be running parallel to the already existing north-south runway.

Its construction is estimated to cost around $1.9 billion dollars, and open by the year 2027.

Community responses to the new runway

The grand plans of the Melbourne Airport were met with concerns from residents because of noise brought by additional aircraft and new flight paths.

Residents who are affected by the new runway want to know more about the plans of the airport, as they did not consider this development when they decided to live in the area.

Prior to the pandemic, according to some, most days had constant noise for five hours every morning and evening. Sometimes it would climb to as high as 80 decibels.

Strambi himself said that, clearly, “there are some flight paths that will see some areas hearing more noise than they have heard previously”.

However, he assured the community that “equally other areas [will] hear less noise.”

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Opportunities for the industry

The new third runway planned by the Melbourne Airport will reportedly bring considerable economic benefits to the state of Victoria and the broader aviation sector. This will include new jobs, opportunities to land new deals, commence projects and more.

Developers who propose to build near the Airport will also need to determine how the new runway affects their plans. Airspace restrictions may come into play.

The community have been invited to look at the Airport’s ‘virtual visitor centre’ and view details about the plan until 16 May 2022.