Victoria’s second wave of COVID-19 infections continued to ease across September, with daily infection numbers and active cases trending down throughout the course of the month.
Despite these positive developments, continued closure of other State and Territory borders maintained pressure on Melbourne Airport’s passenger numbers through the month, down by almost 99 per cent compared to the same time last year.  
Last month around 24,200 domestic travellers flew in and out of Melbourne – a drop in the ocean compared to the two million domestic passengers recorded in 2019.
With traveller numbers at record lows and so much uncertainty around flying, the airport made the difficult decision to suspend construction of its 464-room hotel, located close to Terminal 4. Works on the $160 million project will continue up until lockup, and will recommence when air travel returns to steady levels.
Melbourne Airport CEO Lyell Strambi said while the loss in passengers was devastating, there was growing concern that Victorians would remain cut-off from loved ones this Christmas.
“Our State’s daily COVID cases showed a consistent downward trend throughout September, highlighting the extraordinary efforts Victorians have gone to in controlling this second wave. While there’s still some way left to go, there’s no clarity for Victorian families on when they might be able to reconnect with loved ones interstate, and of Victorians who are stranded overseas being able to fly home,” said Mr Strambi.
“We’ve heard the message from governments around the country that they want to see Australia celebrate as normal a Christmas as possible. But for that to be a meaningful goal, airlines need time to put services into operation, and travellers need time to plan their trips.
“It’s pleasing to see other states are already creating travel bubbles with each other and New Zealanders will soon be able to fly into parts of Australia. While it’s encouraging to see the aviation industry taking some small steps to recovery, we don’t want Victorians to be left any further behind.
“Clearly other State and Territory leaders need confidence that Victoria can continue its recent trend of getting cases under control, and that any outbreaks can be identified quickly and controlled as we return to normality before borders are likely to be reopened.
“At the same time, Australians deserve the clarity to be able to plan what, for many, is no doubt an important date in the family calendar – regardless of where they live.
“We know there’s a lot of pent-up demand to fly within Australia, we know it’s a safe and controlled mode of transport, now we just need restrictions to ease so that Victorians can reconnect with their loved ones before the end of the year.”
Passenger figures for September 2020

PassengersSeptember 2020September 2019Growth (%)*
Total (ex transits)37,7013,117,904-98.8%
Total (ex transits)37,701

*Monthly percentage growth compared to September 2019

Passenger figures for Financial Year to September 2020/21

PassengersFinancial Year 2020/21 (‘000)Financial Year 2019/20 (‘000)Growth (%)*
Total (ex transits)151,9469,502,352-98.4%
Total (ex transits)151,946

*Percentage growth compared to FY 2019/20