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Melbourne sees post-pandemic passenger high

written by Hannah Dowling | May 16, 2022

Melbourne Airport saw over 2.2 million passengers pass through its gates in April, the highest number reported since February 2020.

The high comes off the back of the Melbourne F1 Grand Prix and the Easter and Anzac Day holiday weekends.

Further, with over 1.9 million domestic passengers, April’s figures represent 89 per cent of pre-COVID numbers (compared to April 2019), suggesting that a total domestic recovery is near.

According to Melbourne Airport, its busiest day was Friday, April 22 – the Friday after Easter and before Anzac Day – with 46,482 passengers departing. This figure is down just 2 per cent from the airport’s record for daily departures of 47,600, set on 29 March 2018.


The airport also saw 325,007 international passengers throughout April, a 58 per cent increase compared to March.

Melbourne Airport CEO Lyell Strambi said the figures highlight the need to press ahead with the planning and construction of a third runway at the airport, due to open in 2027.

“We knew demand for travel would return as soon as conditions permitted, and we’ve seen that over the Easter school holidays,” he said.

“We expect the airport will be even busier over the winter break, and while that’s an exciting prospect after these past few years, it does present challenges.

“Before the pandemic, Melbourne Airport’s runway infrastructure was already reaching its limits, so it’s important we have that extra capacity ready to go when it’s needed.

“The proposed north-south parallel runway will increase the airport’s capacity and allow the airfield to operate more efficiently while reducing the likelihood of delays.”

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.

Community consultation submissions on the third runway project are due to close on Monday, 16 May.

Melbourne was far from alone in welcoming crowds of travellers over the busy April period, with airports around the country seeing enormous snaking lines at check-in, bag drop and security. At the same time, Sydney airport was forced to cancel dozens of flights in the days leading up to Easter.

The chaos saw passengers grow increasingly frustrated, due to missed and cancelled flights and additional stress after two years without the ability to travel.

Both Sydney Airport and Qantas blamed the extensive wait times, in part, on travellers themselves, however, many passengers said that there was a visible staffing issue that saw security lanes and check-in desks closed and non-operational.

As reports first emerged of holiday-induced chaos in Sydney, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce blamed delays on “not match fit” travellers.

“I went through the airports on Wednesday and people forget they need to take out their laptops, they have to take out their aerosols … so that is taking longer to get through the [security] queue,” he said.

He added COVID close-contact rules were causing “high level of absenteeism” of up to 18 per cent, however NSW Health later eased close contact rules for aviation workers, allowing them to return to work with a mask if they show no symptoms and test negative to COVID, even if someone in their household has tested positive.

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