Thousands of construction jobs will be generated over the next two decades in a multi-billion dollar transformation of Melbourne Airport, including 3,000 through a $1 billion capital spend over the next two years, the airport says.

In a statement released on Tuesday, Melbourne Airport Chief Executive Officer Chris Woodruff says the airport expects a doubling in passenger numbers to 60 million over the next two decades, and that the significance of its expansion plans in terms of economic activity cannot be understated.

“Our operations currently support more than 57,000 jobs, either directly or indirectly, with this number expected to rise to 95,000 by 2033” Woodruff says.

“Over the next two years alone, our $1 billion investment will create up to 3,000 additional construction and ongoing employment opportunities.”

Woodruff’s comments follow the awarding earlier this month of a $370 million two-year contact to a joint venture between Leighton Contractors and its subsidiary Broad construction to build a new terminal a new domestic terminal able to handle 10,000 passengers each year on approximately 20,000 square metres of land between the existing Terminal 3 and Terminal 4 buildings as well as a new transport facility including a seven elevated access roads and ramps, an underground service tunnel, electrical substation and ancillary infrastructure.

Those works are part of the first stage of the airport’s Southern Precinct Project, future stages of which will see the new terminal expanded to 35,000 square metres and able to cater for 20 million passengers and which in turn is part of a broader $10 billion 20 year Masterplan which also envisions a third runway and an elevated loop road.

The airport is also upgrading its international terminal.

Whilst construction jobs are temporary, Woodruff says many projects over the Masterplanned period would be lined up back to back, meaning their will consistently be around 3,000 workers on site throughout this time.

The latest announcement comes amid ongoing debate about the idea of building a rail link connecting the airport with the city.

Woodruff says this would help meet growing demand but acting Prime Minister Warren Truss cautioned any works would have to be funded without federal government support.