Passengers travelling to Orlando in Florida with Tui, the UK’s biggest holiday company, will soon touch down at an airport more than 70 miles from the theme-park capital.
The company has announced that, from 2022, British holidaymakers will land at “Orlando Melbourne International Airport” – 80 miles from Walt Disney World.
From Orlando’s main airport, the distance to downtown is 13 miles. The city’s long-established secondary airport, Sanford, is 29 miles away.
Melbourne airport is a small and little-used airport close to the Atlantic coast of Florida, south of Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center.
MLB, as the airport is known, is also convenient for Port Canaveral, a cruise and container port. But holidaymakers heading for central Florida’s theme parks will find themselves driving past “real” Orlando airport an hour after leaving Melbourne airport.
At present Melbourne has flights from only two cities: Atlanta on Delta and Charlotte on American Airlines. Each operates three times a day.
Within three years, the arrivals screen will see flights from Birmingham, Bristol, Doncaster-Sheffield, Edinburgh, Gatwick, Glasgow, Manchester and Newcastle.
Dawn Wilson, managing director of Tui Airways, said “Our new Orlando gateway will be perfectly situated to offer Tui UK customers total flexibility in designing their holiday around any combination of theme parks, beaches or cruising.”
The airport promises that Tui’s passengers will enjoy “an uncongested, speedy, stress-free arrival”. They will be “welcomed by MLB’s team of international ambassadors with a glass of fresh Florida orange juice and assisted with any onward arrangements”.
The executive director of MLB, Greg Donovan, said: “Tui’s proven product combined with MLB’s exceptional concierge services will make for an unprecedented customer experience for UK holidaymakers travelling to Florida. With more than $100m 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.”
Melbourne is a town of 76,000 people, and boasts two golf courses.
The airport claims it is “just a mile from Orlando’s closest beaches”. This will come as a surprise to Orlando’s closest beach, Cocoa Beach, which is 20 miles north of Melbourne.
The move is reminiscent of Ryanair, which has long made extravagant claims about the cities that its airports serve – particularly in the case of Paris.
Its main gateway to the French capital is Beauvais airport, 65 miles north. The alternative, “Paris Vatry,” is even further away: 93 miles east. Like Melbourne airport, it claims to serve a Disney park; Disneyland Paris, which is 68 miles away.
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