Avalon Airport is home to one of Australia’s biggest events, the Australian International Airshow and a major airport for the region being serviced by Jetstar. Being just 15 minutes from the centre of Geelong and 40 minutes to the middle of Melbourne the airport has become a major budget airline hub with Jetstar making its Victorian home for flights to Brisbane and Sydney.
Avalon Airport is also one of the Geelong regions biggest employers with Qantas having huge facilities where heavy maintenance and engineering work is carried out on their fleet. The facility has the capability to completely overhaul their aircraft including their 747 fleet. Over the years Avalon Airport has been a major training airport for passenger pilots with Qantas using the airport for over 40 years starting in 1959. Even international carriers have used the facility including Japan’s All Nippon Airways.
Being close to the Geelong satellite township of Lara the runway is 3075 metres long ad was built in 1953, it can handle 747 jets. The airport has been a major aircraft manufacturing centre in Australia, The Government Aircraft Factory later named Aerospace Technologies of Australia or ASTA produced many aircraft including the Sabre Jet fighter, Nomad civilian aircraft and the FA18 which have been an integral part of the Australian Defence Force for over quarter of a century.
Since 1991 the Airport has become the home of the Australian International Airshow, held every second March (odd years) The airshow is the premier airshow in the Asia Pacific region attracting many of the leading brands of both military and commercial aviation. Millions of dollars of deals are made every show. The airshow is more than a trade show it is open to the public and usually attracts upwards of 200000 people over the weekend event. Static aircraft displays and some of the best flying displays thrill the huge crowd at every event.
For people flying in and out of Avalon Airport has easy to use facilities compared to many of the larger Australian Airports. They have basic facilities but they are very user friendly. The terminal has a cafe and is quiet comfortable and very easy to get around. There are extensive car park facilities which are much cheaper than the larger airports. Taxis and shuttle buses operate to both Geelong and Melbourne. A passenger can disembark from the aircraft, pick up luggage and be on the M1 Geelong / Melbourne motorway in a matter of 5-10 minutes, it is so easy.
Jetstar previously operated flights from Avalon to Adelaide and Perth but these services have now been cancelled leaving Jetstar with just the Sydney and Brisbane route from Avalon. Currently Tiger Airways fly to Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Perth and Canberra. Tiger flights to Alice Springs, Mackay, and Rockhampton did operate over the 2010/2011 summer but reverted to Tullamarine in Feb 2011. The small regional airline Sharp Airlines also operates flights out of Avalon. Sharp Airlines fly to Adelaide via Portland, mostly on a 19 seat twin engined turboprop aircraft.
It was hoped that AirAsia X would service Kula Lumpur flights out of Avalon in 2009 with airport owner Linsay Fox announcing a 8000 square metre expansion to accommodate additional services such as immigration, quarantine and customs. The plan has been delayed due to the Federal Government rejecting the initial plan for an international terminal at the airport.
More support has been achieved for the plan since then and planning for an international terminal is underway. The new Victorian state government has also showed support for a rail line that will branch off the Geelong line. Ted Baillieu’s liberal government will pony up $50 Million for initial planning and land acquisition. No date has been given on when more money will come to get the first train to a Victorian Airport.
Linfox management have been quoted in the media that they are out to sell the new international terminal’s services to Airlines. Nothing has been formally announced as of 2011 but Indian Airline Kingfisher is said to be one of the airlines Avalon has been trying to woo to Avalon. Linfox Managing Director David Fox mentioned the Kingfisher talks in a press conference in 2009, later CEO Justin Giddings refused to confirm the talks and explained that they are having discussions with several low cost carriers in the Asia-Pacific region.