Melbourne CBD to the airport in five minutes?
Forget the traffic, a Melbourne entrepreneur has a great new way to get to the airport... if you can afford it.
There is no train to Melbourne Airport - but how about a helicopter?
While the public waits not so patiently for the promised, but never delivered, rail link to Melbourne Airport, one entrepreneur has seen a market opportunity.
Air Melbourne Heli-Express has launched what it believes is one of the first major city commuter services to an airport in the world with up to 40 flights a day between South Wharf and the airport. The five-minute journey, in the twin-engined Agusta helicopters, which travel at about 311km/h, is a little more expensive than a taxi or SkyBus at $249 plus GST one way.
Melbourne Airport chief executive Chris Woodruff said getting people to and from Melbourne Airport was now as important as airfield operations.
He said the airport expected about 60 million passengers a year by 2030 and would need all forms of transports links to be working well.
John Borg, from Air Melbourne, said the typical helicopter client was a busy executive, a frequent flyer, or someone time-poor, running late for a flight, or just wanting more time from their day.
Mr Borg said the service was launched in December and was ''started due to identifying a gap in the existing transportation options''.
Flights depart every 20 minutes in the peaks between 7am and 9am and 4pm and 6pm.
Mr Borg said demand for the service spiked when there were delays on the freeway and that one of the key attractions of the helicopter service was certainty of arrival time.
The helicopter lands at Mercedes-Benz Melbourne Airport Express helipad. A valet service to the terminal is included in the price.
Mr Borg plans to expand the airport service with departure points at Moorabbin and Lilydale.
Melbourne Airport, while supportive of the new helicopter initiative, would like improved mass transit links to Tullamarine. Mr Woodruff called on the state government to accelerate work on a rail link to the airport.
''We support the state government's Albion East alignment for the Melbourne Airport rail link, however, we'd like them to accelerate the timing of it. In the meantime, we need the Tullamarine Freeway widened to support all ground transport and a dedicated bus lane added to support public buses and Skybus,'' he said.
A spokeswoman for Transport Minister Terry Mulder said Melbourne Airport was serviced by Sky Bus operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
''Detailed planning work is continuing on a rail line to Melbourne Airport,'' she said.
''Land reservations are already in place on the recommended route. A proposed timeframe for development of the rail link is part of long-term rail planning.''
Asked how long the helicopter service to the airport would last, Mr Borg did not hesitate.
''As long as there is congestion.''