In a bid to become a more formidable opponent to rival Melbourne Tullamarine airport, Avalon airport plans to introduce a connecting rail-bus service to the airport.
Under the plan, CBD passengers will be able to take the V Line regional train to Lara station and then a connecting shuttle bus to Avalon airport. The service will cost less than $10 one-way, says David Fox, the Executive Chairman for Linfox Airports, which owns Avalon.
"Within the next two months there's going to be some announcements," Fox says at Tuesday's celebration marking the start of flights from Tiger Airways, a major boost for the airport. (You can read more about Avalon and Tiger's plans on our Air Transport Intelligence newswire.)
The only existing public transport option is a limited frequency bus that costs $20 one-way, or $36 return, for the approximately 40 minute trip to the CBD. There are currently no buses between Lara station and Avalon airport, although taxis make the trip for $15-20 one-way.
Rival Tullamarine airport offers one-way fares to the CBD for as low as $12 for the 20 minute bus ride. The shorter trip and lower fee has been in Tullamarine's favour, which Avalon is aware of.
"We're going through the process of identifying the differences between Tullamarine and ourselves here at Avalon. At the end of the day it's ten minutes," Fox says.
Drivers are already benefiting from Avalon's lower parking charges, Fox says. Avalon charges $49 for a week's parking where as Tullamarine charges $77 in a distant long-term lot. Fox also points out that unlike at Tullamarine, there are no road tolls to Avalon.
"There are huge cost savings to the punter who's flying," Fox says.
Avalon positions itself as Melbourne's--and Australia's--only low-cost airport. But airlines are not currently realising the airport's full cost benefit due to lacking fuel infrastructure.
Airlines pay a seven to eight cent per litre premium on fuel trucked in to the airport, Avalon CEO Justin Giddings says. The airport is lobbying the state and federal government to fund an $8m project to extend a pipeline one kilometre to the airport and build two fuel tanks for on-site fuel access.