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Melbourne makes moves on third runway, warns of additional aircraft noise

written by Hannah Dowling | January 31, 2022

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.

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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.

Comments (8)

  • Lisa

    says:

    Please do not fly over Richmond for the 3rd runway approach into Melb. It will stop our beautiful hot balloons floating gracefully over us with the city scape backdrop. Please keep us & Melbourne a life style city 🙏

  • Adrian P

    says:

    I found the Virtual Visitor Lounge web page gimmicky and irritating.
    Despite this I have a shed load of pdfs to read .
    Fascinated to see
    “The existing east-west runway (09/27) will be shortened by approximately 346m at its western end. The shortening of the east-west runway is required to accommodate new taxiways as well as the height difference with the new north-south runway.”

    Also the proposed use of “Simultaneous Opposite Direction Parallel Runway Operations Simultaneous operations where Runway 16R is used for arrivals and Runway 34R is used departures in the opposite direction.”
    “SODPROPS uses the green wedge to the north to concentrate noise in less populated areas when operational conditions allow.”

  • Neil

    says:

    I knew this was going to happen Pre-Pandemic. I can remember Departing on flights from Melbourne to Perth, or to Darwin, and Having to Join to que on the Taxi ways heading out for Departure. At times with at least 8 aircraft waiting for Take off, not to mention a handful of Arrivals as well.

  • Jack

    says:

    I live 16km away from Melbourne Airport in Preston and I am horrified to learn that my house is under one of the new flight paths with 100 flights a day overfly my house. This is actually more than some of the suburbs right next to the airport. The myriad of PDF documents on the Melbourne airport website aren’t user friendly. The noise/traffic tool still doesn’t contain all of the promised information (eg. average height of aircraft) and its noise contour information has actually changed during the consultation period. This really doesn’t inspire confidence that the information I’ll rely on to lodge a submission is correct. Melbourne airport also needs to publicly list suburbs that will be worse off, rather than just saying ‘some’ areas will experience more air traffic. With their approach, people in suburbs that wouldn’t dream that they could possibly be impacted are potentially in for a very nasty surprise in 2027.

  • CS

    says:

    The noise prediction tool supplied by Melbourne Airport doesn’t even say who created it.
    Zero credibility.

  • vito

    says:

    I think the airport location is surrounded by housing stress levels and noise will be unbearable unlike Sydney next to water and gold coast .Maybe airport should relocate close to waterway like you have the defence government land current airport at point cook next to the water less impact on people ‘s lives and I don’t think the people have had any say in this at all . Its already looks like going ahead . We have no choice. Should worry about fixing up transport and congested roads instead . No point brining in more people if our roads and public transport cant cope.

  • Helen Frede

    says:

    I don’t have any confidence in this response process. I live in West Footscray and since the end of the pandemic there are more planes flying over concentrated residential areas than prior to the pandemic. This is astonishing given the number of flights, especially international flights, decreasing by 30 percent as travellers are still wary of flying overseas. Domestic flights are supposed to use the east west runway and international flights the north south because it’s longer in length. If you checkout the Flight Radar 24 app, you can see Melbourne Airport already changed flight paths so all international and domestic flights land on the north south runway regardless of which direction they are coming from which has unnecessarily increased air traffic noise over so many more suburbs. My neighbour recently counted 17 flights in 5 minutes over their property.
    Avalon Airport should be expanded as it is nowhere near residential properties and close to the bay. Or, a third major airport should be built in the outer south eastern suburbs to provide domestic, international and freight services.
    A curfew should apply to all Victorian airports.

  • Roger Daily

    says:

    Flight paths should be over unpopulated areas so not to ruin the amenity of heavily populated areas. Fly over the bay, not the inner suburbs and MCG!

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