Melbourne Airport says it is considering changing the orientation of a planned third runway from the current east-west orientation to north-south.
The potential change of direction comes six years after Melbourne Airport stated its preferred orientation for the third runway to run east-west in its 2013 Master Plan. Those plans were reaffirmed in the 2018 Master Plan.
Melbourne Airport chief executive Lyell Strambi said that after a detailed review of the proposed east-west alignment there was strong evidence that a north-south runway would provide a superior outcome in terms of availability, capacity, long-term investment profile and community impacts.
Strambi said the third runway would be subject to further technical consultation with government, airlines and regulatory bodies through the second half of 2019.
“It is important to be clear that at this stage there has been no decision to change the direction of the runway,” Strambi said in a statement on Thursday.
“Instead, we will enter a period of technical consultation with our airline customers, the federal government, regulatory bodies and other stakeholders to inform our final decision.”
Currently, Tullamarine operates with two runways. The longer Runway 16/34 measures 3.7km, while a shorter Runway 09/27 is 2.3km long.
Melbourne Airport’s 2018 Master Plan said the third runway was expected to be operational by 2023.
Meanwhile, the the long-term outlook for the airport was to eventually have four runways.
“Planning for Melbourne Airport has included four runways since the 1960s and the double parallel ‘hashtag’ layout has been in place since 1990,” Strambi said.
“Due to a number of factors, which have changed over time, we have undertaken a planning review over the last six months to assess whether east-west remains the preferred option for the third runway that we announced in 2013.”
Strambi said he recognised the community interest in the project.
“We are committed to communicating and listening to the community while fulfilling our responsibility to deliver this state and nationally significant infrastructure,” Strambi said.
The 2018 Master Plan can be found on the Melbourne Airport website.
Separately, Melbourne Airport said on Monday work on a new taxiway network had commenced.
The three-and-a-half-year Taxiway Zulu project involved about 250,000 square metres of taxiway pavement, adding extra space for aircraft traffic and make it easier for those aircraft to move about the airfield.
“The finished taxiway network will result in parallel taxiways in the north of the airfield in supporting wide-body aircraft movements in both the east-west and north-south directions,” Melbourne Airport said in a statement.