Virgin Australia has announced a major redevelopment of its Melbourne Airport domestic terminal, as the country's No.2 airline chases Qantas' lucrative corporate flyers.
The airline, which has transformed itself from a budget operation to a full-service carrier over the past six years, said self-service check-in kiosks, automated bag-drop facilities and streamlined security screening will make its new Terminal facilities quicker and easier for passengers.
Passengers will also be able to report to "service pods", while Virgin crew will roam the check-in area with mobile devices to assist passengers.
"It's a major construction and renovation, and it totally changes the flows and experience people are having," Virgin Australia's group executive Rob Sharp said.
"We're at a point on the ground where our traffic is growing, we've got some congestion at peak periods, the signs were there we needed some investment in the terminal, but also the technology is at a point now where there's some state of the art technology – it's really robust, and it's a real step-change."
Security screening gates will be moved closer to check-in and before T3's retail and food outlets. Business class passengers and high-ranked frequent flyers will have a dedicated entry, check-in, bag drop and security line leading straight to its business class departure lounge.
Currently, passengers need to pass security after exiting the business lounge. The redevelopment will also see a walkway built linking Terminal 3 with Terminal 4, which is used by low-cost carriers Jetstar and Tigerair. That means Virgin passengers will be able to eat and shop at T4 after clearing security.
Mr Sharp said he could not comment on how much the redevelopment would cost Virgin because those details were commercial in confidence.
But he said Virgin, which ran at a $185 million loss in 2017 and is one year into a three-year cost-cutting and restructuring program, would enjoy efficiencies from the redevelopment by getting more passengers to their gates on time.
The redevelopment is expected to take three years to be fully completed, with the new check-in facilities ready by mid-2019. Virgin said the redevelopment would begin in mid-2018 and that work would be completed in stages to minimise disruption to passengers.
Melbourne Airport expects passenger numbers to double to 70 million a year over the next 20 years and the airport's chief executive Lyell Strambi said he welcomed the investment.
"For Melbourne to maintain its reputation on the world stage, the airport experience must continue to stack-up against travellers' expectations," he said.