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With discrete arrival for chauffeur-driven limousines, private customs and immigration screening, à la carte dining, a luxurious day spa and boutique hotel-style suites, the Melbourne Jet Base is undoubtedly Australia’s most impressive airport terminal.
Oh, and did we mention the on-site helicopter for that speedy transfer to or from the CBD? That’s just icing on the cake – and this dedicated terminal for private jets and the VIP set is definitely a world-class slice of cake.
It should be. A $100 million investment by wealthy developer and private jet owner Paul Little, the Melbourne Jet Base is a paean to “lifestyles of the rich and high-flying.”
But for Little, and the high net worth clientele which the Melbourne Jet Base will attract, it’s just about efficiency: the ability for high net worth clientele to skip the crowds and queues of public terminals for a smooth, swift and stress-free journey.
To that end, the Melbourne Jet Base – nestled in a discreet location adjacent to Melbourne’s international airport at Tullamarine – is open around the clock and offers what the Jet Base describes as “respectful customs and quarantine processing”, with the option for travellers to be be screened on board their jet.
An airport terminal and first class lounge rolled into one, the Melbourne Jet Base has been designed by Cox Architecture, which saw the exercise as one of "redefining travel".
"Melbourne Jet Base's architectural expression is defined by its elegant and iconic wing form, articulated using aviation-inspired materiality and a play on the poetic tension of earth and sky," the firm says.
"Conversely, the warm interior spaces embrace a uniquely Australian palette of materials, textures and colours, designed to both calm and comfort those in transit."
The interior palette features subdued black and brown tones and tiles in polished black Brazilian marble.
The terminal is capable of handling 200 private aircraft per month, and outbound passengers can be driven straight from the airport’s approach road to a 37-space underground car park.
Before or after their flight, travellers can relax in an à la carte dining room where on-site chefs can also prepare in-flight catering for the next leg of your trip.
A helicopter transfer service skips the freeway traffic to drop you in the heart of the city, although you might just want to head straight to a Yarra Valley winery or take a scenic diversion along the Great Ocean Road.
A concierge can book a table at Melbourne’s finest restaurants, snare tickets for a show or arrange a tour of the city for first-time visitors – or perform the same feats for the next destination in your itinerary.
Well-appointed hotel-style suites cater for late-night arrivals and quick turn-arounds, with a day spa – operated by the same Aurora Spa team as in Qantas’ Sydney and Melbourne first class lounges – offering massage therapies, facials, manicures and hair styling.
But it’s not just about private jet passengers – there’s also a ‘rest and recovery’ area for the pilots and crew of your VIP ride.
A highlight of the Melbourne Jet Base is Little’s Douglas DC-3 Kanana, built in 1938 and now fully restored and airworthy after a career serving the RAAF in World War II through to commercial flights with Australian National Airways and then Ansett Airlines.
The Melbourne Jet Base has been Little’s pet project for the past five years, with its prospects fuelled by steadily increasing demand for private and charter jet services among the uber-wealthy, foreign dignitaries and heads of state, VIPs, celebrities and rock stars who require high levels of service, security and privacy.
The base will also tap into demand of travellers flying in to attend major events such as the Formula 1 Grand Prix, the Australian Open and the Melbourne Cup.
At the same time, the bespoke private jet facility is looking to draw overseas jets away from other cities, including the curfew-constrained Sydney, by making Melbourne their first Australian port of call.
The Melbourne Jet Base also offers jet services such as hangaring, refuelling and maintenance, and already houses three VIP jets from Casino operator Crown along with Little’s own Gulfstream 650.