Blue skies ahead? The future of Victoria’s Aviation industry

Committee for Melbourne held a fascinating E-ROOM forum unpacking the future of the global aviation industry and what it means for our airports, communities and economies so reliant on aviation for passenger movement and freight.

This forum was developed through the work of our Visitor Economy Reference Group, Integrated Transport Taskforce and International Student Advocacy Network, who all identified the need for an urgent and collaborative approach to the return of aviation capacity for our community and economy.

Over 250 members, and stakeholders registered to hear from Melbourne Airport CEO Lyell Strambi and an international panel of experts including:

Dorian Reece, Director | Government and Infrastructure Deloitte Professional Services (Dubai UAE)

Sarah Built, General Manager, Australia and New Zealand, Commercial Division Etihad Airways

Unni Menon, Executive Director Aviation Strategy and Services Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions

The forum disused the need for short-term solutions (the next four months) as we strive to return to levels of capacity and longer-term collaboration as the global aviation sector resets its priorities for the coming years.

There was a feeling of optimism for the future as we move away from the blunt instrument of lockdowns, snap closures and unreliable travel bubbles to more sophisticated solutions involving increased collaboration between cities, airports and airlines, improved quarantine facilities and aggressive vaccine rollout timelines.

It is clear the competition between cities and countries for flights will be fierce, impacting on both our freight and passenger capacity.

It was agreed that despite a few early setbacks, the brand reputation of Melbourne as a safe destination is strong internationally, but capacity and destination selection will be highly competitive as Airlines return to the skies.

Domestically, there is a strong desire to travel as the vaccine is rolled out but consumers need assurance of the return trip, not snap lockdowns.

Our air freight capacity, so important for our export sector, is reliant on increased flights which is also influenced by passenger demand.

CfM member Justin Giddings, Chief Executive Officer, Avalon Airport and Felicia Mariani, Chief Executive Officer, VTIC, joined the conversation and it was agreed we need to drive both demand and delivery. It was noted that competition is fierce in Australia, for example, by 2025 Sydney is scheduled to have two international airports (both connected by rail).

Next steps

It was generally agreed that Governments needs to collectively take a position, based on the level of vaccination in Australia, where the blunt instrument of border closures is no longer used. We need to ensure confidence in travel.


Melbourne and Victoria must be competing for our share of domestic tourism and must ensure events, conferences, leisure and business travel are stimulated, underpinned by reliable aviation capacity. Melbourne has a strong destination brand, but we need to provide tangible product offerings, in a very competitive landscape.


We must collaborate to attract our airline partners back – there needs to be a realistic level of investment, as international airlines will be forced to carefully prioritise their routes over the coming years.

Working with community and industry

Sectors crucial to Melbourne such the international student market, conferences, exhibitions, major events, leisure tourism, business travel need strong aviation partnerships and clear pathways to recovery over the coming months. It was recognised that the ongoing work of the Committee’s Road to Recovery taskforces to encourage that collaboration, needs to continue with a focus on shared vision and support of the relevant government agencies and industry peak bodies.

Watch the event here

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