Melbourne Airport

Runway Development Program

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Runway Development Program? And why does Melbourne Airport need a third runway?

The Runway Development Program (RDP) is part of Melbourne Airport’s plan to meet the growing demand for air travel to and from Melbourne.

Close to 33 million passengers passed through Melbourne Airport in 2015, and this number is expected to reach 64 million passengers by 2033. To meet this demand, the airport will need additional runway capacity to allow for more arrivals and departures, and reduce the amount of time planes spend on the ground waiting to depart, or in the air waiting to land.

As such, Melbourne Airport is proposing to construct a new east–west runway. This third runway will be located 2 kilometres to the south of the existing east–west runway and will be 3 kilometres long and 60 metres wide and capable of handling all aircraft types.

The existing east–west runway is also proposed to be extended from 2.2 kilometres to 3 kilometres and widened from 45 to 60 metres.

When will the third runway be operational?

If approval is received from the Commonwealth Government, the third runway is projected to be operational sometime between 2022–2024.

How did Melbourne Airport decide on the east–west orientation of the third runway?

The selection of the preferred east–west orientation was based on criteria that recognise the potential impacts the third runway will have on the airport, the community and the environment as well as air traffic management and safety.

The major safety and operational advantage of a second east–west runway is that it eliminates the need for aircraft moving to and from the terminal precinct to cross paths on the runways—as the terminal would be between the parallel runways.

With no runway crossing, there are no additional delays for aircraft waiting to cross the runways. There would also be shorter flight distances for flights as well as shorter taxiing distances and times.

It also means less fuel is burnt, fewer carbon emissions are generated and there is a reduction in aircraft ground noise, which benefits the environment and the community.

Will the third runway operate 24 hours a day?

It is proposed the third runway will be available to planes 24 hours a day, similar to the existing runways. Noise abatement procedures will also be put in place for the new runway to minimise the impacts of plane noise on surrounding residential areas.

What is the planning and approvals process?

The RDP requires the approval of the Commonwealth Government through a Major Development Plan (MDP), which is a detailed planning document that considers the runway’s impact on the community and environment.

A draft RDP MDP will be available for public comment before it is submitted to the Commonwealth Government for approval.

What studies are being undertaken to inform the development of the RDP?

The RDP MDP will be informed by multiple studies covering areas such as noise, flight paths, environment, health, and social and economic impacts.

When will flight paths for the third runway become known?

The final design for the flight paths will start around two years before the expected opening of the new runway. 

A flight path study will form part of the RDP MDP—this study will provide indicative flight paths for the new runway but ultimately Airservices will determine the final flight paths.

Flight paths are determined by Airservices, who is responsible for air traffic control. At this stage, Airservices forecasts that up to four new flight paths may be needed to service the new runway and maintain efficient operations, but most importantly, maintain the highest safety standards that Melbourne Airport has always operated under.

Which direction will most flights take off and land on the new runway? East or west?

If approved, the majority of flights on the new east–west runway are expected to take off to the west and land from the east. However, it is important to note that it can't be guaranteed that flights won’t need to take off to the east, as safety and separation of aircraft is the first priority   Weather conditions also impact on flight direction.

An aircraft’s origin/destination, the wind strength/direction, air pressure, temperature, runway slope/surface and aircraft weight are all considered when determining which runways are used at different times of the day for different flights.

Airservices and the plane’s pilot decide which runway will be used with safety as the guiding principle.


Will there be an increase in flight activity for residents in Broadmeadows /Westmeadows /Gladstone Park with the new runway?

Residents in these areas can expect more planes flying overhead should the proposed third runway be approved.

What impact will the new runway have on Diggers Rest and areas west of the airport?

Some impacts on areas to the west of the airport are expected should the proposed third runway be approved, however, the specifics of flight paths will be made closer to the opening of the runway.

How can I be kept updated about the RDP?

Melbourne Airport will keep the community and stakeholders informed via regular and open communication.  

Here are a few ways to stay updated:

  • This website, which will be updated on a regular basis.
  • Through our social media channels.
  • Via Gateway, Melbourne Airport’s quarterly community newsletter. 
  • Community forums such as the Melbourne Airport Community Aviation Consultation Group.
  • By emailing your questions to 
  • Or calling our Community Relations line on 9297 1597.