The idea of a third major airport in Melbourne has been part of state planning talks since 2002. Today, the Andrews government confirmed that an airport in Melbourne’s south-east is on the cards as part of its 2017-2050 strategy for the growing city.

The Herald Sun reports that Koo Wee Rup is being considered as the location of a third airport, and that the government “has pledged to identify the land” for the potential transport hub in the next five years.

The city already has two major airports at Melbourne’s Tullamarine and Avalon near Geelong. The potential third airport, which would cost about $5 billion, would service about a third of the state’s population.

Once early planning work is complete, the Commonwealth government will need to grant aviation approvals. The private sector will fund any development, but the government emphasised plans will not go ahead unless demand for air travel warrants it (The Shire of Cardinia, where Koo Wee Rup is located, has backed the proposal).

“Melbourne Airport and Avalon Airport still have capacity to take more flights, but nevertheless we won’t make the same mistakes Sydney has made,” says a spokesperson for Planning Minister Richard Wynne.

“We need to plan ahead for aviation to avoid being blindsided as Victoria grows. Plan Melbourne is the government's blueprint for population growth, and it includes the early planning works for a third airport to cater for a larger population and growing number of arrivals to Victoria.”

Melbourne Airport spokesperson Carly Dixon told the Herald Sun she’s supportive of the idea.

“With long-term considerations such as land ownership, noise contours, flight paths and market access all to consider, we’re very supportive of moves to start that safeguarding process,” Dixon says.