More domestic passengers flew through Melbourne Airport in March than in the month the Covid-19 pandemic took hold in Australia, as relaxed border restrictions and the Labour Day long weekend encouraged Victorians to spread their wings.

A total of 1,722, 250 passengers passed through Melbourne Airport in March; just 7,642 fewer than the 1,729,892-figure recorded in March 2020.

But the airport welcomed 1,516,539 domestic passengers, which is higher than the 1,256,064 domestic travellers processed in March 2020 when pandemic restrictions were introduced.

The number of international travellers using Melbourne Airport was also the highest since Australia’s border re- opened.

Domestic performance was helped by the re-opening of the Western Australian border and an increase in airline capacity.

Melbourne Airport CEO Lyell Strambi said the growth in demand was pleasing, but warned it presents challenges as the aviation industry works to rebuild.

“Covid-19 decimated airlines and airports and resulted in thousands of highly-skilled workers being stood down or made redundant,” he said.

“The airlines and their suppliers are now scaling up their workforce but given the safety-critical nature of the jobs they do; recruitment and re-training can take time.

“We know tens of thousands of people are planning to travel over the Easter holidays and that will put pressure on some parts of our operation, so we’d ask passengers to arrive early and be patient while we work to get them where they need to be.

“As aviation recovers it’s important we look to the future, and that’s why we are upgrading our terminals and moving ahead with plans for a third runway, so that we have sufficient capacity to cope with forecast demand.”

Melbourne Airport’s runway plan is currently on public exhibition, with submissions open until May 16.

PassengersMarch 2022March 2021Growth (%)*
Total (ex transits)1,722,250991,151+74%
Total (ex transits)1,722,250

*Monthly percentage growth compared to March 2021

PassengersFinancial Year 2021/22Financial Year 2020/21Growth (%)*
Total (ex transits)6,253,2683,125,778+100%
Total (ex transits)6,253,268

*percentage growth compared to FY 2020/21