Avalon Airport

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Avalon Airport
Avalon Airport logo.svg
Airport type Public
Owner Department of Defence
Operator Linfox
Serves Melbourne, Geelong
Location Avalon
Elevation AMSL 35 m / 115 ft
Coordinates 38°02′26″S 144°28′15″E / 38.04056°S 144.47083°E / -38.04056; 144.47083Coordinates: 38°02′26″S 144°28′15″E / 38.04056°S 144.47083°E / -38.04056; 144.47083
Website www.avalonairport.com.au
YMAV is located in Melbourne
Location in Melbourne
Direction Length Surface
m ft
18/36 3,048 10,000 Asphalt
Statistics (2009)
Passengers Estimated 500,000-600,000[1]
Sources: Australian AIP and aerodrome chart[2]

Avalon Airport (IATA: AVVICAO: YMAV) is the second busiest of the four airports serving Melbourne (in passenger traffic) and is located in Avalon, Victoria, Australia, 50 kilometres (30 mi) south-west of the state capital Melbourne and 15 km (9 mi) north-east of the city of Geelong. The airport is operated by Avalon Airport Australia Pty Ltd (AAA), a wholly owned subsidiary of Fox Group Holdings Pty Ltd and is situated on a 1,754-hectare site, a 40-minute drive from Melbourne's Central Business District and 20 minutes from Geelong.

The airport's location between Melbourne and Geelong makes it both a capital city airport and a regional airport, servicing a large regional catchment in western Victoria and providing connections to tourism destinations such as the Great Ocean Road. Since Linfox Group's purchase of the airport in 1997, Avalon Airport's aviation operations have grown significantly as it has established itself as a second gateway to the Melbourne and Geelong regions. Today, the airport contains land and facilities that are surplus to current and projected aviation requirements. This provides the opportunity to pursue property development projects for a wider range of activities, which support Avalon Airport's growth as an airport and as a major employment centre for the region.[3]

The airport has a single runway in addition to a helipad.

Avalon is currently served by one passenger airline, Jetstar Airways, which started domestic flights in 2004.[4] The airport is also leased by Qantas as a heavy maintenance facility, operates freight and ground handling services and is the site of the biennial Australian International Airshow.[5]

Unlike Melbourne Airport, Avalon is not governed by the Commonwealth Airports Act; in early 1997, Linfox purchased Avalon Airport from the Commonwealth.


The airport is located on land of the original indigenous owners, the Wuthaurung People,[6] and a scatter stone area is preserved on the Avalon Airport site, out of respect for the original owners.[7] The land has undergone many changes over the past century.

In the beginning, the airport was a sheep and cattle farm and homestead, founded by James Austin, an immigrant from Glastonbury, Somerset, England. James established his farm and named the homestead "Avalon" after the isle of Avalon at Glastonbury, the mythical island in the Arthurian legend. In 1952 the Commonwealth Government bought 1,754 hectares (4,333 acres) at Avalon for just 110 pounds, as the land was deemed to be of poor quality farmland due to the abundance of volcanic rock littering the surface.[8]

The airport was opened in 1953, to cater for the production of military aircraft.[9] Previously, the Government Aircraft Factories at Fisherman's Bend, Melbourne had used a runway beside the factory. However, newer jet aircraft required a longer runway for safe operations, and the Fisherman's Bend runway was being encroached upon by development.

A 3,048 m (10,000 ft) runway was built by Country Roads Board, with the first plane landing on 3 April 1953 – a four-engined Avro Lincoln heavy bomber flown from Fishermans Bend. The English Electric Canberra light bomber was under construction at same time at the new airport. In 1959, Qantas established a training base at the site.[10]

In 1961, Government Aircraft Factories combined with The Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation, and built and serviced 110 Mirage fighters at the site, and in 1970 Jindivik Target Aircraft transferred to Avalon Airport from Fishermen's Bend, adding production of 170 Nomad and 75 Hornet military jets, in addition to servicing of other jets.

In 1985 the Government Aircraft Factories changed its name to Aerospace Technologies of Australia (ASTA).[11] Aircraft produced during this time included the CAC Sabre jet fighter, GAF Jindivik remotely piloted aircraft, and Nomad civil aircraft. Under the ASTA banner, engines for the Dassault Mirage III jet fighters were produced, as well as assembly of the F/A-18 multirole combat aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

In October 1988, the ASTA Aircraft Services division took the first Boeing 747 to Avalon for servicing and maintenance. By December 1993, fifty 747 aircraft had been through the Avalon facility, and 820 people were employed at the site.[12] October 1995 saw a Cathay Pacific Lockheed L-1011 flown to Avalon for scrapping by ASTA Aircraft Services, in what was a one off event.[13][14]

Training of pilots from Japan's All Nippon Airways commenced at the airport on 8 September 1993.[15]

On 27 June 1995 Aerospace Technologies of Australia was privatised by the Commonwealth Government,[16] selling the aircraft divisions to Rockwell Australia Limited, and the airport operations to Avalon Airport Geelong Pty Ltd.[11] The ASTA airliner overhauling facility was closed in 1997.[17]

The first scheduled passenger flights out of the airport were operated by Hazelton Airlines, who commenced flights between Avalon Airport and Sydney in February 1995. 36-seat Saab 340 aircraft were used for the service.[18] The service was discontinued after a short time due to a lack of passengers.

Aircraft hangars at the airport. The tail of VH-EBU Nalanji Dreaming can be seen in the second hangar

Post privatisation[edit]

In 1997, the Australian Commonwealth government through the Department of Defence, granted Linfox a 50-year plus a 49-year option lease of the airport. Between 1997 and 2001 Linfox developed proposals to develop the land which formed the basis of the current Avalon Airport Master Plan draft, 2013. The Qantas heavy maintenance base has remained with the airport since 1997 but announced a downsize of heavy maintenance operations at Avalon Airport in 2012 with the loss of over 250 jobs.[19]

Since acquiring the Head Lease in 1997, Linfox has changed the Airport which now holds the biennial Australian International Airshow – the showcase event of Australia's aviation sector.

On 1 June 2004 Jetstar started operations from the airport.

In April 2010, Tigerair Australia announced it would base two aircraft and commence operation from Avalon later that year.[20] By June 2011 however, Tiger announced it would be withdrawing several flights from Avalon, to be operated instead from Tullamarine Airport which the airline considered to be more profitable.[21] The remaining Tiger Airways services were withdrawn after a series of incidents that led to airline's operations being suspended by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority the following month.

In October 2012, the Federal Government announced that the airport's lease would be amended, allowing for the construction of a new terminal and the implementation of international flights. Avalon is the second airport in Victoria to be designated as a port of entry for freight operations.[22]


Since the introduction of Jetstar in 2004, the Avalon Airport terminal facilities have been expanded from the original size of 732 square metres (7,880 sq ft) to nearly 5,600 m2 (60,000 sq ft). Over $100 million has been invested in the airport thus far to complete the following:

  • An apron expansion completed to accommodate a further four aircraft as well as enable the opportunity to accommodate an aircraft the size of a Boeing 747.
  • A total of seven A320 sized aircraft can now be parked simultaneously in front of the airport terminal;
  • Installation of a Flight Information Display system;
  • Fuel farm expansion to triple storage capacity from 500,000 to 1,500,000 litres of A1 jet fuel plus installation of new fuel pipelines;
  • Construction of a new bus, taxi and hire car road and various rerouted roads to manage incoming passenger traffic and other road infrastructure upgrades;
  • Fuel farm electrical maintenance and demolition of unused buildings; ·
  • Significant infrastructure upgrades as part of the Australian International Airshow

Passenger terminal[edit]

The current terminal facility is approximately 4,500 square metres (48,000 sq ft) in area and houses four gates capable of servicing aircraft up to and including the size of the Airbus A321. In its present configuration, the terminal can accommodate around six domestic departures per hour. The airport has a total of eight aircraft parking bays; there are six on the Northern Apron and two on the Eastern Apron. On the Northern Apron, the airport can accommodate five Code C Aircraft (Boeing 737 or Airbus A320 aircraft) and one Boeing 747.

Currently the airport hosts Jetstar Airways alone, who offer five flights to Sydney per day, a single round trip to Adelaide and six frequencies to Hobart per week, all using the Airbus A320.

International passenger flights will be available from Avalon in the future.

Avalon Airport can accommodate two Boeing 747s or two Boeing 787s on the Eastern Apron. The Eastern Apron is also a remote parking bay which doubles as a freight bay. The Airport is capable of fitting one Airbus A380 at a time on the Eastern Apron; this means it can also accommodate the freighter version of Boeing's new 747-8, which is slightly smaller.

Currently the airport terminal is not equipped with aerobridges, and does not feature any guest lounges.

Freight Facilities[edit]

The most notable freight operations include the Melbourne Formula 1 Grand Prix, V8 Supercars and Superbikes, plus some specialist charters including livestock race horses, fresh produce, military hardware, touring rock bands. The airport can facilitate loads on all aircraft types from the Airbus 380 series down, with equipment available to load via the main deck, lower deck, nose or tail end of the Aircraft, with a maximum lift of 16 tonnes. It has three dedicated freighter parking positions: Two on its Eastern and one on the Northern Freighter Aprons.

Aircraft heavy maintenance[edit]

Avalon Airport has 55,000 square metres (590,000 sq ft) of hangar space, including three Boeing 747 hangars; The Avalon Heavy Maintenance facility operates on-site and consists of six hangars in total. Three of these are customised B747 hangars used by Qantas. The Qantas Engineering maintenance facility commenced operations on 13 May 1998. This facility is the Boeing 747 heavy maintenance base, currently employing approximately 700 people. Historically, it was also responsible for the Qantas Group's aircraft commercial project work, including cabin reconfigurations and refurbishment.

The Avalon Maintenance Facility is the first in Australia to develop and carry out a program for converting B737-300 passenger aircraft to freighters for Australian Air Express operations and is responsible for the modification of the new Premium Economy product for Qantas’ B747-400 fleet.

In 2012, Qantas announced that it would phase out operations at Avalon Airport, making the hangars available for other businesses. Three of these hangars are currently inviting expressions of interest for new tenants.

Australian International Airshow[edit]

The Australian International Airshow commenced operations from Avalon Airport. The project is owned by Aviation Development Australia Limited. The airport hosts the event bi-annually, with the event attracting a total attendance of over 195,000 across the six days, including exhibitors from the international aerospace industry and government, military, scientific and trade delegates.[23]

Avass Electric Bus Manufacturing[edit]

Avass Electric Buses manufacture electric buses in one of the former Qantas-occupied Avalon Airport hangers.[24]


Public Transport[edit]

There are bus services to and from Melbourne and Geelong and the surf coast region. The Avalon Airport Shuttle operates a bus service between Avalon Airport and Geelong, Torquay, the Bellarine Peninsula and the Great Ocean Road. Sita Coaches also offers the Avalon Airport Transfers, bus service between Avalon Airport and Southern Cross Station (formerly Spencer Street Station), in Melbourne's CBD. The Airport Buses meet all arriving and departing Jetstar flights on a set timetable and takes approximately 50 minutes to Melbourne.

The airport has 1,500 airport car spaces and the taxi rank can be found directly out the front of the terminal. There is also an Uber pickup/drop-off bay located directly out the front of the main entrance. Passengers can request UberX rides using their app. Car rental is available by: Avis, Budget and Europcar. Service desks for each company are located in the Arrivals Hall.

Future Plans[edit]

Airport Master Plan 2013[edit]

The Avalon Airport Draft Master Plan, now with the Australian Commonwealth Government for review, outlines investment for future growth in some of the following:

  • Further expansion of the current domestic building to allow for growth in domestic and international aviation – estimated at $10 million
  • An international terminal (passport control, baggage hall, customs, duty-free shopping, passenger lounge etc.) – estimated at $50 million
  • Hotel (100–120 rooms) – estimated at $12 million
  • Service station / convenience retail – estimated at $4 million
  • Retail outlets – estimated at $20 million
  • Expanded car parking – estimated at $5 million
  • New roads – estimated at $5 million
  • New hangars for larger aircraft, including the A380 – estimated at $50 million
  • Industrial warehousing – estimated at $20 million
  • Rail link – estimated at $200 million
  • The continuation of the development into an Australian International Airport until 2025.[citation needed]

Avalon line[edit]

On 3 May 2011, the Victorian Minister for Public Transport committed $3 million for the planning of a rail link to Avalon Airport.[25][26] In January 2013, three route options were presented. The railway line would start by running along the existing Geelong-Melbourne heavy rail line, and then divert towards Avalon Airport, south of Little River, at one of three locations. The eastern option would see the line break away closer to Melbourne, near Cherry Swamp Rd and Little River. The central option would place the diversion 2.5 km southwest, near Peak School Road at Lara. The western route option would divert from the existing line closer to Geelong, at Plains Rd, Lara. Each of the three routes would run over the Princes Freeway, north east of Beach Rd interchange at Little River, running under the flight path to a new station inside the terminal. The government would need to acquire private farmland to complete the link and is considering a number different options, including a light rail service, automated driverless trains used at several international airports.[27][28][29]

On August 4, 2013, the state government indicated that it may alter its election promise to build the $250 million train line to Avalon Airport, and instead create a cheaper ''light rail'' link from Melbourne's south-west. Department documents show the government is now considering other options to meet interim demand, such as light rail, buses, or ''driverless transport options which are used at many airports around the world''.[30] The December 2012 PTV Network Development Plan suggested that Avalon line could be built as a branch of the Grovedale-South Yarra Line, a future line of Melbourne's railway network that will go from South Yarra railway station all the way to Grovedale, Geelong.[31]

Other uses[edit]

In July 2013, it was proposed by Geelong City Council that a theme park be built at Avalon, and they have held discussions with Village Roadshow and other companies concerning the proposal. African Safari World was a previous proposal at nearby Werribee Zoo that did not get approved.[32]

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Airlines Destinations
Jetstar Airways Adelaide,[33] Gold Coast,[34] Hobart,[33] Sydney[35]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On 6 August 1976, a prototype N24 Nomad crashed shortly after take off at Avalon while conducting a flight test of modifications to the tail of the aircraft. Two of the three crew members were killed in the accident,[36] notably including pilot Stuart Pearce - father of actor Guy Pearce.[37]
  • A serious incident involving a Tiger Airways Australia Airbus A320 flight from Sydney occurred on 30 June 2011 when the crew performed a missed approach at Avalon outside of published procedures, resulting in the aircraft overflying the Geelong suburb of Leopold at a dangerously low altitude, without guidance from Air Traffic Control. The incident made national headlines and triggered a five week grounding of the airline over a busy school holiday period while a safety audit was conducted by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.[38][39]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "Avalon Airport confident of a future even if Jetstar flights end - Australian Aviation". australianaviation.com.au. 
  2. ^ YMEN – Essendon (PDF). AIP En Route Supplement from Airservices Australia, effective 25 May 2017, [1]
  3. ^ Avalon Airport Draft 2013 Master Plan
  4. ^ "About Avalon". Avalonairport.com.au. Retrieved 18 August 2017. 
  5. ^ "HEROES OF THE SKY - AIRSHOW 2015 - AUSTRALIAN INTERNATIONAL AIRSHOW AND AEROSPACE & DEFENCE EXPOSITION - 24 February to 1 March 2015 GEELONG VICTORIA". Airshow.com.au. Retrieved 18 August 2017. 
  6. ^ From Duck Ponds to Lara, by Lara Heritage Festival Committee, 2004
  7. ^ Avalon Airport Draft Environment Plan 2013
  8. ^ From Duckponds to Lara, published by the Lara Heritage Festival, 2004, edited by Mary Budd, Caroline Delaney and John Grainger
  9. ^ "Avalon Hangar Conversion for Qantas? Skybed Fit-Out Adds to Meinhardt Aviation Portfolio" (Press release). Meinhardt. 10 December 2003. Archived from the original on 29 August 2007. Retrieved 18 December 2007. 
  10. ^ Fishwick, Bill. "Qantas Boeing 707-138 Aircraft at Avalon Airport in 1959". VH-JET#1 & Her Sisters. adastron.com. Retrieved 2013-04-02. 
  11. ^ a b "Government Aircraft Factories / Aerospace Technologies of Australia". Boeing. Archived from the original on 9 June 2007. Retrieved 23 July 2007. 
  12. ^ "AVALON LEADS THE WAY IN AEROSPACE, SAYS GUDE". Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 23 July 2007. 
  13. ^ "Oddities – The Lockheed File". Adastron. Archived from the original on 12 September 2009. Retrieved 9 August 2009. 
  14. ^ "The Demise of TriStar VR-HOF – The Lockheed File". Adastron. Archived from the original on 15 September 2009. Retrieved 9 August 2009. 
  15. ^ "JAPANESE PILOTS' CAREERS SET FOR TAKE OFF AT AVALON". Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 23 July 2007. 
  16. ^ "SUPERANNUATION (CSS) CONTINUING CONTRIBUTIONS FOR BENEFITS REGULATIONS (AMENDMENT) 1995 NO. 349". Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved 23 July 2007. 
  17. ^ "Property Council of Australia — Geelong Fights Back". Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 23 July 2007. 
  18. ^ "GUDE WELCOMES GEELONG AIR LINK TO SYDNEY". Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 23 July 2007. 
  19. ^ [2][dead link]
  20. ^ Platt, Craig (19 April 2010). "Tiger Airways to fly out of Avalon". traveller.com.au. Retrieved 15 August 2017. 
  21. ^ "Tiger in Avalon-to-Tullamarine switch". Theaustralian.com.au. 3 June 2011. 
  22. ^ "Avalon airport to become international". Theaustralian.com.au. 12 October 2012. 
  24. ^ http://avass.com.au/contact Contact Us. Retrieved on April 19, 2017
  25. ^ [3]
  26. ^ "Avalon to become second Melbourne international airport, with rail link". Ausbt.com.au. Retrieved 18 August 2017. 
  27. ^ "Three rail choices for Avalon airport". Heraldsun.com.au. Retrieved 18 August 2017. 
  28. ^ "Home" (PDF). Transport.vic.gov.au. Retrieved 18 August 2017. 
  29. ^ "Home" (PDF). Transport.vic.gov.au. Retrieved 18 August 2017. 
  30. ^ Tomazin, Farrah (4 August 2013). "Coalition may shift to Avalon light rail link". The Age. 
  31. ^ [4]
  32. ^ Fowles, Shane (25 July 2013). "Theme park being readied for takeoff at Avalon". Geelong Advertiser. Geelong. Retrieved 29 July 2013. 
  33. ^ a b "Jetstar includes Hobart, Adelaide on Avalon flights radar". Geelong Advertiser. 
  34. ^ "Gold rush comes to Avalon with new daily flights". Jetstar. Retrieved 18 June 2015. 
  35. ^ Airport, Avalon. "Flight Schedule". Avalonairport.com.au. Retrieved 18 August 2017. 
  36. ^ "Accident description:VH-SUZ 6 August 1976". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 15 August 2017. 
  37. ^ Crotty, D. "Government Aircraft Factories (GAF) Nomad". Museums Victoria. Retrieved 15 August 2017. 
  38. ^ Gardiner, Ashley (13 July 2011). "Tiger flight flew low without clearance, Australian Transport Safety Bureau finds". news.com.au. 
  39. ^ Sandilands, Ben (18 December 2013). "Safety report details breach that got Tiger Airways grounded - Plane Talking". Crikey. 


  • Peter Begg (1990). Geelong — The First 150 Years. Globe Press. ISBN 0-9592863-5-7

External links[edit]