Melbourne Airport (IATA: MEL), also known as Tullamarine Airport, is the largest and most important airport in Melbourne and the state of Victoria, Australia. As the city's only international airport, it is the primary port of entry for most overseas visitors to the city. Situated 23 km north-west of the city centre in the northern suburb of Tullamarine, it is host to direct flights to dozens of locations in Australia and throughout the globe.
Melbourne Airport is curfew-free and operates 24 hours a day year-round. The terminals are contained within one building, or within easy walking distance of each other. As a gateway to Australia, it has many advantages over other capital cities that are curfew restricted and have complex or expensive arrangements to transfer from international to domestic flights.
The airport has four terminals. T1, T2 T3 are in the same building, and it is easy to walk to T4, however each terminal has separate security screening, and access between terminals is not available once in the sterile area.
- T1 (the "North Terminal") is used by Qantas and Jetstar domestic services.
- T2 (the "International Terminal") is used by all international airlines. It is the middle terminal of the airport.
- T3 (the "South Terminal") is used by Virgin Australia and REX Regional Express domestic services.
- T4 is used by Tiger Airways Australia domestic services.
The Sydney to Melbourne flight route is one of the busiest in the world, with flights sometimes leaving at 20 minute intervals. This is mainly because the next best option is a very long drive.
Internationally, Melbourne connects throughout South East Asia, China, South Korea, Japan, Los Angeles, Dubai and London (to name a few).
The Qantas Airbus A380 serves this airport.
Melbourne has unfortunately no train service to its airport. Buses or taxis are the most common mode of transportation to and from the city.
Skybus, ☎ +61 3 9670-7992, runs a 24/7 shuttle to and from the Southern Cross Station Coach Terminal on Spencer Street at the west end of the Central Business District, just north of Lonsdale Street. There are two airport pickup locations. One is outside the Virgin Australia/REX terminal (T3), 50 m from the international terminal (T2). The other is outside the Qantas/Jetstar domestic terminal (T1). There are ticket desks at both T1 and T3, and if unattended, tickets can be purchased electronically or from the driver.
The trip takes around 20 minutes (in good traffic) and runs directly using the freeway with no stops. It costs $18/36 adult one-way/return, $6 child one-way (4–14 years of age). There are also several family ticket options available. Frequency ranges from half-hourly 1–4AM, to every 10 minutes 5:30AM–11PM. They also run a connection service between the terminal and central hotels/hostels during the day (M–F 6AM–10:30PM, Sa–Su 7:30AM–5:30PM), and this is included in your fare. Otherwise, you can board any train at Southern Cross Station, or take a tram down Collins St through the city centre. Bookings are not needed for travel from the airport to hotels, but on the way back, book hotel pick-up at least three hours ahead.
If your destination is not in the city centre, it may well be a better option to use regular public transport.
By public bus
Melbourne airport has some public buses as well.
If money is more important than time and convenience, you can take public bus 901 (every 15-30 munutes) to Broadmeadows Station (travel time 20 min) and switch to a train (every 8-30 minutes) to the city (travel time around 40 min). Both buses and trains run from 5AM to midnight, although Broadmeadows is one of Melbourne's sketchier suburbs and you'll want to be careful after dark. There are now Protective Services Officers patrolling almost all stations nightly after 6 PM, including Broadmeadows. The trip traverses Zone 1 and 2, and you will need a Myki smartcard to pay the fare ($3.76 from Jan 1, 2015). The smartcard itself costs $6. There are machines that dispense myki cards in the arrivals area of T1-T3, and outside the arrivals terminal door at T4. The SkyBus ticket office also sells the myki Visitor Pack for $14, which includes $8 of credit. The buses depart from outside the Qantas domestic terminal, at the far left of the bus departures area that runs the length of the terminal. Follow signage.
If you are using public transport to travel around Melbourne on the day you arrive, this method represents even better value. There is a daily cap on public transport fares, meaning you will never pay more than two fares per day in each zone, no matter how many trips you make. On weekends, the daily cap is $6 for unlimited travel across both zones.
The buses display the next stop, and there will usually be others getting off at Broadmeadows Station. When travelling to the airport, the bus stop is immediately outside the station, and there is an electronic sign indicating the predicted arrival time of the next bus.
Alternatively, routes 478/479 (every 30-60 minutes, travel time 15 minutes) provide service to Airport West, where you can connect with Route 59 trams (every 8-30 minutes, travel time 50 minutes) to the city. The fare is the same ($3.76 from Jan 1, 2015).
Greenbus offers a direct service to the city centre for $12 (students) to $14 (adults). Other options for Melbourne city centre and inner suburbs are Starbus and VHA airport shuttle which charge between $18 and $25 depending on destination.
Alternatively, if heading to southern Melbourne (St Kilda and points beyond), the Frankston and Peninsula Airport Shuttle (FAPAS) runs roughly-hourly minibus services, advance bookings required either on-line or at +61 3 9783-1199. Full adult fares from $18, but there are group discounts and some hostels even offer free rides if you stay for three or more nights.
For Dandenong and surrounding areas Airport Bus Dandenong has services from $20 to the city centre and St Kilda and $25 to Dandenong. Airport Bus Eastside services the outer eastern suburbs and Gull services Werribee ($22) and Geelong ($32).
A taxi into the Melbourne CBD will cost around $60 and take around 30 minutes.
By rental car
Six car rental companies have offices and facilities on-site. All of them have information desks where bookings can be made in the domestic terminals. Considering the high cost of using taxis, it may be cheaper to hire for a few days if you want to really explore Melbourne and its surroundings.
Note that the motorway into Melbourne is a toll road, and cameras will scan your licence plate. All the on-airport rental car companies have some option to pay, or you have up to three days after you travel to buy a Tulla Pass for $5.25. Or, if you are spending longer in Melbourne then you can buy another passes that will halve the price, but charge you a setup fee such that is it isn't worthwhile for a single trip to the airport and back.
Melbourne Airport is navigated purely by walking. Expect it to take around 10 minutes to walk from one end of the airport to the other, or around 5 minutes more to walk down to Terminal 4.
This makes Melbourne one of the easier Australian gateway ports for transit, as Sydney, Brisbane and Perth all have awkward transfers between International and Domestic terminals.
Three hotels operate on the airport grounds:
- Holiday Inn, From $135/room.
- Ibis Budget.
- Parkroyal Melbourne Airport, Arrival Drive, Melbourne Airport, Tullamarine 3045, ☎ +61 3 8347 2000, toll-free: 1800 192 144, e-mail: email@example.com. Connected to the terminals by two short pedestrian flyovers, hotel has 276 rooms of fairly high quality. Other facilities include a 24-hour gym, a heated pool, spa, sauna and paid Wi-Fi.
There are no places of interest in the surrounding area, although if you are adventurous then it is a good place to start to drive down the 'Great Ocean Road'.