The closest private homes are more than 10 kilometres from the airport. Mr Giddings said the first rollout of 50 cabins could be built within a month if the plan gets the green light from the government.
“The whole idea would be to fly people in from overseas and see them effectively walk to a quarantine area for 14 days, reducing the needs for buses,” he said.
“They would be self-contained units like Howard Springs, but more modern and isolated away from other passengers or any of the public. We have a lot of land available.
“It would also allow for easy access to Melbourne and Geelong if people needed medical attention.”
All international flights into and out of Avalon Airport are grounded, with four domestic flights a day to the Gold Coast and Sydney continuing out of a separate terminal nearby.
Mr Giddings said the plan could also allow private charter flights to land at the airport, opening up potential travel for AFL players and staff ahead of the upcoming season, or allowing it to cater for international jets such as those recently refused arrival for the now-cancelled Bells Beach Rip Curl Pro.
Increasing the number of international flights arriving into Victoria would also reduce the cost to passengers, he said.
“We’re happy to work with the government on this. We’re in early discussions at the moment,” he said.
“Hopefully they can sit down with us and get this going.”
The plan comes amid another hard lockdown for Victorians after the highly infectious UK strain of coronavirus leaked out of the state’s hotel quarantine program.
There are currently 21 cases of COVID-19 in Victoria; 17 are linked to the Holiday Inn cluster, including 14 who spent time outside the hotel quarantine environment with “significant community exposure”, Victoria’s COVID response commander Jeroen Weimar revealed on Monday.
The airport’s written quarantine proposal, seen by The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, was put forward this month and touts the facility as being a highly secure site, complete with a fenced-in compound, security office, CCTV and commercial kitchens.
The facility – 50 kilometres south-west of Melbourne – includes an outdoor sand running track, basketball courts and a barbecue area that could be used to provide fresh air and sunshine for those in quarantine, while avoiding contact with the wider community.
The proposal says all passengers would need to be tested before leaving their country of origin and obtain a negative result before being processed by the Department of Health, and be retested on arrival.
Avalon Airport is controlled by the Department of Defence and leased to the Linfox Group.
Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed on Monday that the state government was in a “number of discussions” about setting up a remote quarantine facility for Australians returning from overseas.
“No decision has been made. At some sites with very large amounts of space and an international airport located just next door, that’s obviously got some real strength,” Mr Andrews said.
“That could work well for, say, charter flights, where the Australian government can direct those flights to land wherever they choose.
“I doubt that would work quite as well for some of the commercial flights that are coming back … I expect they would want to land at Melbourne Airport. I can’t speak for them but that would be my active assumption.
“We are working on a whole range of different issues, just like [Queensland Premier] Annastacia [Palaszczuk] is working on the Toowoomba option. Hopefully we can have a productive discussion at national cabinet.”
Mike Toole, an epidemiologist at the Burnet Institute, told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald this week that in an ideal world, every Australian city would have access to a quarantine facility like the one in Howard Springs.
“It has single-storey cabins that are joined but there are no airconditioning ducts,” he said. “They have individual airconditioning units and verandas where you can sit out and get some fresh air.
“It’s a 30-minute drive to the Royal Darwin hospital so it really fulfils everything you’d love to have in a quarantine facility.”
Erin covers crime for The Age. Most recently she was a police reporter at the Geelong Advertiser.