Today Melbourne Airport celebrates 50 years of connecting Melbourne to the world, since the airport’s official opening on 1 July 1970.
Former Prime Minister of Australia, Sir John Gorton, officially declared the airport open, with the inaugural Qantas (QF530) international flight taking off to San Francisco.
Originally the airport was built for aviation and leisure purposes, based on an airport city model to attract Melburnians to the precinct. The design included: a 300-seat cinema and Astrojet Space and Science Centre, an observation deck, shops, cafes and bars.
Over time air travel become more affordable and Melbourne Airport’s footprint expanded, growing from three terminals to four to facilitate holidaymakers, business travellers and the movements of freight and goods.
Since taking-off, Melbourne Airport has seen more than three quarters of a billion travellers fly in and out with the domestic market accounting for 600 million passengers and international accounting for 169 million people.
Melbourne Airport Chief Executive Officer, Lyell Strambi, said he was proud of how the airport has developed over the decades.
“When the airport first opened it was iconic for the whole state. It created opportunity for people to reach destinations that they could previously only dream of,” said Mr Strambi.
“People didn’t just flock to the airport for flying, they used to dine out at the renowned TopAir restaurant, helmed by a head chef from an international three Michelin star restaurant and featuring sweeping views of the airfield.
“The airport was also a destination for school excursions. I remember the excitement as a young boy in coming to the airport for an excursion, taking a guided tour through the Astrojet center and walking around the most innovative aviation infrastructure, at the time, in Australia.
“Over the years flying became more accessible and to this day the airport has featured in more than three quarters of a billion individual journeys.
“Our continued focus on the traveller experience is what has enabled Melbourne Airport to endure the test of time. We have a strong team, dedicated to the growth of the business and to the continuous planning for the future.
“The airport continues to grow and evolve with Melbourne. It’s ironic that we are celebrating 50 years since the birth of Melbourne Airport, as we get ready for a rebirth of flying activity to begin, post COVID-19. This will go down in history as another seminal moment in the history of Melbourne and its airport.”
As part of the 50th year milestone, Melbourne Airport is launching Junior Traveller. The Australian-first aviation online learning module aims to spark a lifelong love of the skies for a new generation of aviation enthusiasts who are currently aged from seven to 16 years old.
The first learning module is based around the airport’s 50th milestone and includes informative videos featuring air traffic controllers, pilots, and airport staff. It also includes puzzles, games and challenges.
Mr Strambi said: “We are proud to launch an initiative that not only educates but encourages youth to get excited about a future in the aviation industry. We want to provide a virtual resource that has elements of a school excursion, especially evident in our behind-the-scenes vision of different aircraft.”