The airport comprises four terminals: one international terminal, two domestic terminals and one budget domestic terminal. It is 23 kilometres (14 miles) from the city centre, adjacent to the suburb of Tullamarine. The airport has its own postcode—Melbourne Airport, Victoria (postcode 3045).
In 2016-17 around 25 million domestic passengers and 10 million international passengers used the airport. The Melbourne–Sydney air route is the fifth most-travelled passenger air route in the world. The airport features direct flights to 33 domestic destinations and to destinations in the Pacific, Europe, Asia, North America and South America. Melbourne Airport is the number one arrival/departure point for the airports of four of Australia's seven other capital cities. Melbourne serves as a major hub for Qantas and Virgin Australia, while Jetstar Airways and Tigerair Australia utilise the airport as home base. Domestically, Melbourne serves as headquarters for Australian airExpress and Toll Priority and handles more domestic freight than any other airport in the nation.
Before the opening of Melbourne Airport Melbourne's main airport was Essendon Airport, which was officially designated an international airport in 1950. In the mid-1950s, over 10,000 passengers were using Essendon Airport and the limitations of Essendon Airport were beginning to become apparent. Essendon Airport's facilities were insufficient to meet the increasing demand for air travel; the runways were too short to handle the then new jet airliners and the terminals failed to handle the increase in passengers, by the mid-1950s, an international overflow terminal was built in a new northern hangar. Due to the encroachment of the urban boundary, the airport had become surrounded by residential housing, meaning that expansion of Essendon Airport was not possible.
In 1959 the Commonwealth Government acquired 5,300 ha (13,000 acres) of grassland in then-rural Tullamarine.