Melbourne Airport And How To Get There

Table of Contents
    Add a header to begin generating the table of contents

    The main airport serving the city of Melbourne and the second busiest airport in Australia is Melbourne Airport, also known as Tullamarine Airport. In order to replace the nearby Essendon Airport, it opened in 1970.

    Of the four airports that serve the Melbourne metropolitan region, Melbourne Airport is the busiest international airport; Avalon Airport is the other.

    The airport has four terminals: one international, two domestic, and one domestic budget terminal. It is situated close to the suburb of Tullamarine and 23 kilometres (14 miles) north-west of the city centre. Melbourne Airport, Victoria, is the airport's suburb and postcode (postcode 3045).

    Around 25 million domestic passengers and 10 million travellers from abroad utilised the airport in 2016–17. The world's third busiest passenger air route is between Melbourne and Sydney.

    Direct flights are offered from the airport to 33 domestic locations as well as to the Pacific, Europe, Asia, North America, and South America. In addition, four of Australia's other seven major city airports use Melbourne Airport as their primary arrival and departure hub.

    Qantas, Virgin Australia, and Jetstar have major hubs in Melbourne, which also act as their home base. In addition, Melbourne handles domestic freight more than any other airport in the country and acts as the domestic headquarters for Australian air express and Toll Priority.



    Before the opening of Melbourne Airport, Melbourne's major airport was Essendon Airport, formally designated an international airport in 1950. In the mid-1950s, over 10,000 passengers were utilising Essendon Airport, and its limitations were beginning to become evident.

    Essendon's infrastructure was insufficient to satisfy the increasing demand for air travel; the runways were too short to handle jets, and the terminals failed to handle the increase in passengers.

    The mid-1950s saw the construction of a new northern hangar, which included an international overflow terminal. Unfortunately, the airport could not be enlarged, as it had become surrounded by residential districts.

    In February 1958, a group was established to evaluate Melbourne's civil aviation needs, and from there, the search for a new airport to replace Essendon began. As a result, the Commonwealth Government purchased approximately 13,000 acres of grassland in rural Tullamarine in 1959.

    In May 1959, it was reported that a new airport would be built in Tullamarine, with Prime Minister Robert Menzies announcing on 27 November 1962 a five-year plan to provide Melbourne with a A$45 million "jetport" by 1967.

    The first sod at Tullamarine was turned two years later, in November 1964. In keeping with the five-year plan, the runways at Essendon were enlarged to handle larger aircraft. In October 1964, Ansett Australia introduced the first jet aircraft used for domestic flights in Australia: the Boeing 727.

    On 1 July 1970, Prime Minister John Gorton opened Melbourne Airport to international operations ending Essendon's nearly two-decade stint as Melbourne's international airport.

    Essendon still was home to domestic flights for one year until they shifted to Melbourne Airport on 26 June 1971, with the first arrival of a Boeing 747 coming later that year. Six international airlines and 155,275 international passengers passed through Melbourne in its first year of operation.

    There was a time when Melbourne Airport was known as Melbourne International Airport. Location: Tullamarine, from the local Aboriginal word, Tullamareena. Locally, the airport is frequently referred to as Tullamarine or simply as Tulla to distinguish the airport from the other three Melbourne airports: Avalon, Essendon and Moorabbin.

    The three terminals at Melbourne Airport were all linked together, with International in the middle, Ansett to the south, and Trans Australia Airlines to the north.

    Minor expansion works performed in 1973 allowed Boeing 747s to serve the airport, increasing capacity from the original eight 707s and 500 passengers per hour. In the late 1980s, the airport's peak passenger throughput reached 900 passengers per hour, resulting in severe congestion.

    Inspector A. Rohead of the Federal Airports Corporation was given the responsibility of a bicentennial project to rename streets in Melbourne Airport in late 1989. The project aimed to pay tribute to the area's indigenous peoples, early European settlers, and aviation history.

    Ian Hunter (a Wurundjeri researcher) and Ray Gibb (a local historian) compiled the data for the first two groups. After the farm in the centre of the airfield, Gowrie Park Drive was the only name proposed for the completed but abandoned the project.

    In the event that Essendon Aerodrome was destroyed during World War II, the planes could land safely at the farm, which had been prepared for the possibility during the 1920s.

    Expansion And Privatisation

    The Federal Airports Corporation (FAC) was established in 1988 by the Australian government, which gave it operational control over Melbourne Airport and twenty-one other airports worldwide.

    The Australian government announced the gradual privatisation of all FAC-operated airports in April 1994. Accordingly, Australia Pacific Airports Corporation Limited, a newly constituted company, paid $1.3 billion in a single step to purchase Melbourne Airport.

    On 30 June 1997, the transfer was finalised under a long-term lease agreement for 50 years with an additional 49-year extension option. As a result, the Commonwealth has a Leased Interest in Melbourne Airport.

    Airport infrastructure, including runways, parking lots, and terminals, has been expanded since privatisation.

    The $49 million, three-level parking garage adjacent to the station was built between 1995 and August 1997 and had 3,100 parking spaces, the vast majority of which are covered.

    This building, originally four stories tall, is now the terminal's parking garage. The $55 million, 6-story Hilton Hotel (now Parkroyal) atop the parking garage opened in the middle of 2000. Construction began in January 1999.

    A second pier and nine spare aircraft stands were added to the Qantas domestic terminal during its 1999 expansion.

    Domestic Express Terminal, a new passenger terminal that cost $9 million and was inaugurated in December 2000 to the south of the main terminal building, brought the total cost of passenger terminals to five. There had not been a new terminal building at Melbourne Airport since 1971.

    A $40 million redevelopment initiated in 2004 doubled the size of the short-term parking by adding 2,500 new spots across six levels, and an additional 1,200 new spaces were added to the 5,000 previously available in the long-term carpark.

    Melbourne Airport's retail income surpassed $100 million for the first time in 2004, up 100 per cent from the first year after privatisation.

    Work on the airport began in 2005 in anticipation of the arrival of the double-decker Airbus A380. The main construction, which took place in May of 2005 and lasted 29 days, was to widen the main north-south runway by 15 metres (49 feet).

    To speed up boarding and decrease wait times, the airport expanded its international terminal by 20 metres (66 feet) to accommodate new rooftop airline lounges. In addition, it installed a second baggage carousel in the arrivals area, among other changes. Therefore, it was the first airport in Australia to be able to accommodate the A380.

    On November 14, 2005, the A380 performed its maiden test landing at the airport. When a Singapore Airlines flight destined for Sydney was rerouted to Hong Kong International Airport due to fog on May 15, 2008, it was the first passenger flight into the airport with the A380.

    Qantas began service in October 2008 and is the only airline to offer nonstop flights to Los Angeles International Airport using the A380 from this airport. The Qantas A380 made its maiden flight on this route.

    The airport added an extra level of airline lounges in March 2006, increasing the terminal's total square footage to 54,000 square feet.

    Terminal 2's $330 million, 270,000-square-foot expansion, which began in 2008, was finished in 2011.

    Five new aerobridges were installed on the passenger concourse, and a new 5,000 square metre (54,000 square foot) outgoing passenger security and customs processing zone were also created as part of the expansion.


    One runway at Melbourne Airport stretches north to south for 3,657 metres (11,998 feet), while the other stretches east to west for 2,286 metres (7,500 feet). As a result, an additional 843 metres (2,766 feet) will be added to the north-south runway, bringing its total length to 4,500 metres (14,764 feet), and an additional 1,214 metres (3,983 feet) will be added to the east-west runway, bringing its total length to 3,500 metres (11,827 feet) (11,483 ft).

    Another 3,000 metres (9,843 feet) of runway space is scheduled to be built south of the existing runway that runs north to south, and another 3,000 metres (9,843 feet) of runway space is scheduled to be built parallel to the existing runway that runs east to west.

    The original estimate for the cost of the east-west runway extension and the new third runway was between $500 million and $750 million, with significant construction planned to begin in 2019 and be finished by 2022.

    It surprised locals in Gladstone Park, Westmeadows, Attwood, and Jacana when Melbourne Airport scrapped plans for a new east-west runway in favour of a new parallel north-south runway to the west of the airport in 2019, citing aircraft noise issues for locals.

    Melbourne Airport Corporation expects the new north-south runway, which may involve the extension of the present east-west runway, to be operational by 2025. However, further planning may take an additional 12–24 months.

    By 2017, the airport anticipated 248,000 annual passenger movements; by 2023, the current runway capacity would be reached, forcing the construction of a third runway.

    The airport's plans to implement a Category III landing system, which will allow planes to land in low visibility conditions like fog, were first revealed on June 5th, 2008. Initially costing $10 million, this system was commissioned in March 2010 as the first of its sort in Australia.

    Ground Transport


    The Tullamarine Freeway connects Melbourne Airport to the city centre, which is 23 kilometres (14 miles) away. One freeway exit leads straight into the airport grounds, while another to the south services freight transport, taxis, buses, and airport personnel. The Airport Drive expansion was completed in June 2015, providing a second main access to the airport.

    The link begins at the M80 Western Ring Road and leads directly to Melrose Drive, 1.5 kilometres from the terminal. The Tullamarine Freeway is being widened as of 2018.

    Melbourne Airport features five parking lots open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The short-term, multi-level long-term commercial and express parking lots are covered, while the long-term parking lots are not.

    The major multi-level carpark in front of the terminal was created in the late 1990s to replace the previous ground-level parking. Since then, it has been gradually enlarged.

    Public Transport

    From the airport to Southern Cross station (on the western limit of Melbourne City Centre) and St. Kilda, the Skybus Super Shuttle provides speedy bus services.

    Also, there are shuttles that run between the airport and the Mornington Peninsula, with stops in St. Kilda, Elsternwick, Brighton, and Frankston.

    About 3.4 million people use SkyBus each year to travel between Melbourne Airport and the central business district.

    The airport is also accessible by public bus from several metropolitan and regional areas. The 478, 479, and 482 all leave at the tram stop on route 59 and travel to Westfield Airport West. Travellers on Route 479 can board trains on the Sunbury or Bendigo lines at the Sunbury train station.

    Regular bus service along route 901 (operated by SmartBus) was first made available in September 2010.

    Broadmeadows (Craigieburn, Seymour, Sheppard, and Albury lines), Epping (Mernda line), Greensborough (Hurstbridge line), and Blackburn are all stations where passengers can board trains via Route 901. (Belgrave and Lilydale lines).

    V/Line provides regional bus services to Barham and Deniliquin via the airport on a regular frequency.

    Nine more bus companies provide service to the airport, taking passengers to Ballarat, Bendigo, Dandenong, Frankston, the Mornington Peninsula, Geelong, the suburbs of Melbourne, Shepparton, and the Riverina. These are substitutes for switching to another V/Line service.

    Proposed Rail Connection


    Public transportation options are available to and from Melbourne Airport, although as of 2021, there will be no direct train service between the airport and the city.

    The Bolte State Government considered constructing a rail link between the airport and what was then called the Broadmeadows line (now the Craigieburn line), but the plan was scrapped in 1965 due to a lack of parliamentary support.

    During its time in office, the Bracks State Government looked into bringing a heavy rail line to the airport as part of its Linking Victoria initiative in 2001.

    One route would have split off the Craigieburn Suburban Line to the east, while the other would have branched off the Albion Goods Line, located south of the airport's perimeter. The preference was for the second choice.

    Poor ridership on similar routes in Sydney and Brisbane raised doubt about the project's sustainability, and market studies found that most passengers prefered taking taxis or renting cars to go to the airport.

    Because of this, the project was put on hold until at least 2012. However, the Premier of Victoria reiterated the government's support for a rail link on July 21, 2008, and promised that it would be reviewed within three to five years.

    The airport pushed to have the on-site portion of the railway built underground in order to maximise potential future growth.

    Federal funding of $5 billion has been pledged to build a rail link between Melbourne Airport and the central business district, as announced by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on 12 April 2018.

    He added that the state of Victoria's government would have to contribute matching funds to the federal government. Private participation might bring the overall cost to $15 billion, making an unrealistic 50/50 funding split between state and federal governments.

    For the airport rail link, the state government said on July 22nd, 2018, that it would contribute $5 billion, matching the financing from the federal government.

    The Victorian and Commonwealth governments gave their official approval on March 14, 2019, and each has pledged up to $5 billion to build the missing rail link at a total cost of $8–13 billion.

    It was determined that the Sunshine route would provide the best performance. Thus that is where the rail link was built. Improvements to the Sunshine station will also make it simpler for travellers from the metropolitan area and the surrounding areas to reach the airport.

    The economic case for the nine-year, $1 trillion train link was expected in 2020, and construction is set to begin in 2022.

    Best Ways To Get From The Melbourne Airport To The CBD

    Your flight landed in Melbourne, and now you must make your way to the city's CBD. Which means of transportation do you think will serve you best?

    The airport is situated in the vicinity of the industrial district of Tullamarine, 22 kilometres northwest of the city centre. That means it's much further from Sydney's central business district than this airport.

    So, the most convenient route from Melbourne Airport to the central business district depends on your prefered mode of transportation.

    The Most Convenient Option – Skybus

    The Skybus service operates as a round-the-clock shuttle between the Central Business District Is Spencer Street and Southern Cross Station's Coach Terminal.

    The airport shuttle will pick you up either in the terminal for Virgin Australia or the terminal for Qantas and Jetstar, which are located in the domestic terminal area.

    Tickets can be purchased at the ticket windows in Terminals 1 and 3 or from the driver. The trip to the central business district will take around 20 minutes, and it will cost $18 one way or $30 round trip.

    Except for between 1 and 4 a.m., the shuttles will leave every 10 minutes when they run every half hour.

    The Cheapest Option – Public Transport Victoria

    You can go from Melbourne Airport to the city centre for $7 on weekdays and $3.50 on weekends by taking this slower but cheaper route. Visit the Skybus stop and purchase a Myki Card.

    Leave the terminal and cross the first road, then turn left and follow the signs to the end of the T1 platform. Get off at Broadmeadows Station and ride bus 901. The word "Frankston" has to be added to the bus's sign. Change trains at the Broadmeadows Station. Take the bus to get to Essendon, Moonee Ponds, or Sunbury.

    The Most Independent Option: Hire A Car

    Car rental in Melbourne is a good option for those who want the freedom to explore the city at their own pace. Many automobile rental agencies are at the airport, so it shouldn't be hard to locate one there.

    The roads leading into the city are easy to navigate, and exits are marked. However, many of the city's hotels will charge you for parking, so plan accordingly.

    The Fastest Option: Taxi

    Taking a cab from the airport to your accommodation is the most time-efficient option.

    As soon as you're ready, it will take off and head in the direction you specify. Taxi stands are located on the ground level outside of Terminal 1 and between Terminals 3 and 2 at the airport. Look at this calculator for an approximate taxi fare to your hotel.

    The Most Luxurious Option: limo

    A limo service is a great option if you want to make an entrance in Melbourne that will be remembered. The cost of a limo ride in Melbourne can vary from $80 to $150, depending on the vehicle you select and your final destination inside the city. Though it may be a bit of a splurge, this is a great way to celebrate a momentous event!

    Frequently Asked Questions

    SkyBus runs express bus services every 15 minutes between Melbourne Airport and Melbourne CBD, operating between 4:30am and midnight, 7 days a week at a flat rate of $15 one-way, or $28 return. Check with SkyBus directly to confirm service status.

    An interesting and inexpensive way to get from Melbourne Airport to the city is by combined bus and train. Take the 901 bus to Broadmeadows station (a ride of about 20 minutes) and change to the train for the 40 minute trip to Flinders Street (Melbourne central business district).

    The below is a short summary of the main transport options and prices to the city centre: Taxi: $55 - $65 (up to four people) - 20 - 40 mins. Skybus: $19 per person - 20 - 40 mins. Starbus, VHA Airport Shuttle: $18 - $25 per person - 20 - 40 mins.

    Taking the bus will be your greatest alternative if you are concerned about travel expenses. The SkyBus is the most popular form of public transportation at Melbourne airport because it travels directly to the city from the airport. It is an exceptionally pleasant vehicle, and it operates nonstop service from Terminals 1, 3, and 4 into the heart of the city.

    The Melbourne Airport includes public pick-up zones designated specifically for private pickups. You can also make arrangements with a member of your family or a close friend to provide a private pick-up and delivery service.

    From Melbourne Airport, FLY BUS provides private bus transfer services as well as bus hire services complete with drivers. They offer transfer services to and from any location within Victoria.

    Scroll to Top