Melbourne Airport announced an $81 million investment to almost double the size of the Virgin Australia arrivals hall at Melbourne Airport. The upgrade includes construction of a new baggage carousel and oversized baggage collection point as well as refurbishment and lengthening of the existing three carousels.
New central arrival escalators and anti-pass back gates will be installed as part of the expansion, that will create a ground floor connection for passengers moving between Terminals 3 and 4.
When completed in 2025, the upgrade will give Virgin Australia passengers 85% more baggage carousel space from which to collect their bags and enable faster baggage delivery so passengers can move through the terminal and onto their end destination more quickly.
Melbourne Airport Chief of Aviation, Jim Parashos, said the works would provide passengers with a more spacious and comfortable arrivals experience. “Jostling for a spot to grab your bag off the belt can be frustrating, so these upgrades will provide passengers with almost twice the space to spread out and collect their bags,” he said. “This project will reshape Terminal 3 and increase our baggage capacity while also creating a ground floor connection to Terminal 4. Virgin Australia is now the biggest domestic carrier at Melbourne Airport with millions of passengers passing through Terminal 3 every year so it’s important we build now to cater for future growth.”
Virgin Australia Chief Customer and Digital Officer, Paul Jones, said the investment in upgrading baggage capacity reflected growing passenger numbers at Melbourne Airport. “Virgin Australia’s domestic capacity at Melbourne Airport is higher than it was last year and pre-COVID,” he said. “We want our guests to have a wonderful experience when they fly with us, so we are investing in the areas that matter most, from the ground to the air. That also includes launching Australia’s first-ever airline baggage tracking tool, rolling out Rapid Rebook technology to improve the experience in the event of disruption, investing in new latest-generation aircraft, and embarking on a $110 million cabin refurbishment of our existing 737 fleet.”
Traffic in September improves
Average daily passenger numbers at Melbourne Airport hit a new post-pandemic high in September with more than 2.9 million people taking flight. Last month Melbourne Airport welcomed a total of 2,006,641 domestic travellers and another 894,703 international passengers, which represents an overall increase of 18 per cent on September 2022. On average, 96,711 people passed through the terminals each day, with the airport breaking its post-pandemic daily passenger record on three successive Fridays, culminating in 113,754 travellers on the Grand Final Friday public holiday.
There was a small increase in domestic capacity, which has largely plateaued over the past six months, with average daily domestic seat numbers reaching a new post-pandemic high and load factors at 82%.
Melbourne Airport Chief Executive Officer Lorie Argus said airport infrastructure upgrades would allow airlines to bring in more capacity and provide consumers with extra choice. “Enabling more competition will help push ticket prices down and ensure passengers have more choice to fly to more destinations,” she said. “Airports are subject to regular monitoring by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, and it makes sense that this arrangement be extended across the broader aviation industry. We also believe an open skies approach to bilateral air service agreements will benefit consumers by maximising competition and choice. We know that the average daily international flight is worth $154 million a year to the Victorian economy, which is why we work closely with the State Government to bring new services to Melbourne. Our investment in terminal, airfield and road infrastructure will ensure Melbourne Airport is able to support the extra capacity required to keep up with demand from our growing population.”