Melbourne Tullamarine airport is extending its consultation period on its proposed third runway until the end of the year as it mulls switching it from an east-west orientation to north-south.

Plans dating back to the 1960s call for the long-term development of four runways at Tullamarine, and since the 1990s the configuration has been for a "double parallel 'hashtag'" layout, the airport says.

But a review over the last six months suggests that changing the third runway to a north-south parallel orientation could provide greater capacity and potentially lower community impact.

"It is important to be clear that at this stage there has been no decision to change the direction of the runway," says managing director and chief executive Lyell Strambi. "Instead, we will enter a period of technical consultation with our airline customers, the federal government, regulatory bodies and other stakeholders to inform our final decision."

Tullamarine has experienced strong growth in recent years, and its 2018 master plan called for a third, east-west aligned runway to be in operation by 2023, at which point the existing two runways were expected to reach saturation point.

It appears that the potential change of layout may delay construction of the new runway, but the airport did not provide an indicative timeline.

Source: Cirium Dashboard