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Transport unions slam Melbourne Airport rail link delays

The TWU and RTBU have both criticised Melbourne Airport for the delay in the airport rail project announced in Victoria’s 2024/25 state budget

Both the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) and the Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) have combined to criticise Melbourne Airport for leading to the airport rail link project being delayed.

The comments come after the Victorian government announced this week it will delay the airport rail construction by at least four years as part of decisions that Victorian treasurer Tim Pallas says are “sensible and disciplined” in the face of inflation and workforce shortages.

“We need to be realistic about the project and its timeline,” Pallas said in a budget speech to Victorian parliament.

In response, both the TWU and RTBU say that Melbourne Airport’s “corporate greed” has led to the government failing to take decisive action and delaying the project.

The TWU represents thousands of aircraft refuelers, baggage handlers, freight handlers, caterers, drivers, flight attendants, pilots, cleaners, security screeners and work safety officers at Melbourne Airport, with the union saying the four current bus routes serving the airport are inadequate public transport options.

“Airline workers don’t care whether the station is above the ground or underground, they just want a station that gives them the same option as every other airline worker at major airports in Australia,” TWU branch secretary Mem Suleyman says.

“Through this disappointing announcement, the only winners are Melbourne Airport because they continue to maintain the ludicrously overpriced parking fees from the public.

“Melbourne Airport charges airline workers and customers over $12 a day to park up to 30 minutes away from the terminal, and as much as $79 a day for closer parking. The TWU is tired of the excuses and urges the Melbourne Airport and the Victorian government to get out of first gear and get on with delivering this project.”

Suleyman has also called on the federal government to help deliver the project and navigate the current dispute. In response, the TWU will be holding an emergency forum to give local politicians the chance to hear from airline workers about the need to deliver an airport rail link.

“Airline workers within the airport and in the surrounding business precinct all support this project – the only obstruction is Melbourne Airport’s greed and lawmakers sleeping behind the wheel, it needs to end and we need to get on with building it,” Suleyman says.

RTBU branch secretary Vik Sharma agreed that the project needs to be delivered as soon as possible.

“Airport rail is the missing piece in the transport network and Victorians want to see progress on this common-sense connection that is long overdue,” Sharma says.

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