Australia relies heavily on its airports for getting people and products around the country expediently. Sydney Kingsford Smith International Airport is the primary gateway into Australia, and the busiest hub in the country, with Melbourne International Airport being a close second. Qantas is the national airline, but domestic flights are also served by Tiger Airways, Virgin Airlines, and JetStar. Several regional airlines like Qantas Link and Regional Express connect remote towns with the urban hubs.
Sydney Kingsford Smith International Airport
Australia’s largest air hub for both international and domestic flights is Sydney International Airport. More than 36 million passengers pass through the gates of this airport’s terminals annually, but this number is steadily growing. Qantas uses the facility as a major hub, while Virgin Airlines Australia and Jetstar use Sydney as a secondary base offering forty-seven domestic routes. Major international connections from Sydney include Singapore, Dubai, Los Angeles, and Tokyo-Narita.
There are four terminals at Sydney International. Terminal 1 is the main international terminal, while terminals 2 and 3 house domestic and regional flights. Terminal 4 was once used as a regional building, but after these operations moved, it became the site for DHL offices and Tasman Cargo Airlines. The passenger terminals all contain restaurants and shopping facilities. However, only the international terminal (Terminal 1) has duty-free shopping amenities.
From the airport, downtown Sydney is just a 20-minute train journey. The underground rail line, known as the Airport Link, is found beneath Terminal 1 and between terminals 2 and 3. Public buses are available from just outside the arrivals’ exit for all terminals. Hotel shuttles can be found, but it is better to research this before arriving to be sure your accommodation offers this service. The airport sits to the south of Sydney’s central business district, however several major highways link the airport to the inner and outer suburbs of Sydney, including the M1 and M5.
Melbourne International Airport
Situated about 14 miles (23kms) from downtown, the international airport serving Melbourne is Australia’s next busiest hub behind Sydney. Approximately 28 million passengers are carted through the terminals annually, with more than 200,000 aircraft operating throughout the year. Eight million passengers alone fly between Melbourne and Sydney each year, which is one of the busiest routes on the planet. Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai, Bangkok, and Auckland are the most popular international flights operating from Melbourne.
There are four air terminals at the airport. Terminal 2 is the international terminal and the others handle specifically designated airlines. Terminal 4 is the first no-frills airlines terminal to be used in the country, but plenty of places to shop and dine are located throughout the other areas. In addition, several hotels are found on site, including a Holiday Inn and a Hilton.
The Tullamarine Freeway connects the airport to downtown Melbourne which makes it easy for buses, shuttles, taxis, and car rental transportation to get in and out. A SmartBus service provides airport connections every 15 minutes during the daytime from numerous stations in the city center.