Melbourne, Florida, is getting its first long-haul flights
Orlando's third airport, Melbourne, on the Atlantic coast of Florida, is getting its first international scheduled flights. Leisure carrier TUI Airways has announced that it will switch its Orlando operations from Sanford (SFB) to Melbourne (MLB) from 2022.
These two airports may not be as familiar to some passengers as the city's main Orlando International Airport (MCO), which is used by most international carriers like British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Norwegian. However, Sanford serves a number of UK destinations, all on TUI:
- Birmingham (BHX)
- Bristol (BRS)
- Doncaster/Sheffield (DSA)
- Edinburgh (EDI)
- Glasgow (GLA)
- London Gatwick (LGW)
- Manchester (MAN)
- Newcastle upon Tyne (NCL)
Sanford is around 28 miles north of downtown Orlando, while Melbourne is about 70 miles from town, on the east side of the city. Orlando's popular theme parks are located just west of the city, close to Orlando International Airport.
Melbourne airport was awarded Florida’s 2019 "Commercial Service Airport of the Year", despite only serving a handful of domestic destinations. Year-round services are limited to Atlanta (ATL) with Delta and Charlotte (CLT) with American. In 2018, the airport handled 500,000 passengers, versus 45 million at Orlando International and 3 million at Sanford.
Melbourne Airport is hoping to grow its passenger numbers considerably and is investing in the airport passenger experience. MLB Executive Director Greg Donovan explained, “TUI’s proven product combined with MLB’s exceptional concierge services will make for an unprecedented customer experience for U.K. holidaymakers traveling to Florida. With more than $100 million of investment into MLB’s airport facilities over the last few years, and much more on the way, MLB will be practically the newest and most modern airport in Florida”.
While the airport is still a considerable distance from theme parks, TUI is promoting the fact that Melbourne Airport is right on the coast, which is convenient for those heading to the beach, as well as being closer to popular destinations in the South of Florida, such as Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Miami is, however, 180 miles from the MLB airport.