MELBOURNE airport has declared itself the leading hub for Australia’s airfreight exports, ahead of record export volumes that have surpassed pre-pandemic levels.

The first quarter of 2024 saw $1.8 billion of locally made produce transit through the airport on the way to foreign markets, including 44,700 tonnes of local cargo, representing 40.2% of the nation’s total air-freight export volume.

The top product exported by volume was fresh meat at 15,649 tonnes, while the most valuable product was pharmaceutical goods, with $258.4 million worth sent overseas.

While the airport had big wins in exports, passenger transit numbers were yet to catch the mark.

Total international passengers transiting through Tullamarine in April were up 14%  when compared with April 2023, however these numbers are only 94% of the travellers processed in April 2019.

In Domestic, traffic increased just 3% year on year, reflecting a slow growth potentially stifled by an increase in fares.

Melbourne Airport chief of aviation Jim Parashos highlighted the airport’s significance in the Victorian economy.

“These figures represent thousands of jobs right across the state, in farms, factories and cutting-edge laboratories,” he said.

Speaking on the airport’s future amid projected growth, he said “To ensure Melbourne Airport has sufficient capacity to cater for the state’s growing population and support our key industries, Melbourne Airport submitted a plan for a third runway to the Federal Government in February 2023”.

In December 2023, Melbourne became the first Australian airport to exceed 100% of pre-pandemic international capacity.