Melbourne Airport has revealed its plans to finally open its third runway by 2027, however, has warned that new flight paths will be introduced that could see additional noise pollution over some Melbourne suburbs.
The new 3,000-metre runway will run north-to-south and cost an estimated $1.9 billion, according to the airport’s newest masterplan, released on Monday.
The new runway will run parallel to the existing north-south runway and replaces a previously rejected plan to install a new east-west runway.
The plan hopes to ease the high levels of congestion seen at Melbourne prior to the COVID pandemic, by allowing for new simultaneous take-offs and landings.
Suburbs that skirt the airport’s north and south are expected to be most impacted by increased flight noise due to the new runway, however a complete rework of Melbourne’s flight paths could see residential suburbs experiencing more flight noise than previously.
As such, a 14-week consultation process with stakeholders, including residents of affected suburbs, is due to begin on Tuesday.
Melbourne Airport will later submit a final plan to the government sometime in 2023, taking into account the submissions during the consultation period.
Melbourne Airport chief executive Lyell Strambi said the airport had developed an online interactive tool that will let residents enter their address to discover how future noise pollution could impact them.
“There are many, many stakeholders interested in the airport and the airport’s development. So of course, there’s going to be some people that it may affect more greatly than others,” Strambi said.
“Our job, though, is to come up with a plan that actually works for the greater good, to make sure that the business case for the broader Australian community stacks up and that the benefits clearly outweigh the disadvantages of building and growing an airport. And in our mind, very strongly, that is the case.”
It comes after inner-city residents in Brisbane have grown increasingly dissatisfied with Brisbane Airport over its new flight paths, introduced after the opening of its second parallel runway, which the community claims did not meet the expectations set during initial public consultation.
Melbourne’s third runway has been in the cards since 2012, initially slated with an east-west orientation, however the airport announced the redirection to a new north-south runway in 2019.
The airport was initially hoping to see the new runway operational by 2025, however this has now been pushed to 2027 at the earliest, due to COVID-19.
The airport has forecast that its passenger numbers will grow to more than 76 million per year over the next 20 years.
Strambi stated that the airport had almost hit its maximum capacity on its two current runways in 2019, prior to the pandemic, meaning a third runway is essential to account for the airport’s growth.
“Prior to COVID-19, airlines and their customers frequently experienced delays in peak periods due to the airport’s congested cross-runway system,” he said.
“It effectively gives you almost a doubling of the capacity of the airport.”
It’s estimated the construction and operation of the third runway will create 37,000 jobs and contribute $4.6 billion to the state’s GDP by 2046.