A Virgin plane carrying 130 passengers has made an emergency landing at Melbourne Airport after a mid-air scare.

The Sydney-bound flight returned to Tullamarine Airport as a precautionary measure just before 9am this morning, after the captain detected an unusual odour in the cockpit.

"The pilot returned to Melbourne as standard operating procedure after an unusual odour was detected in the cabin on the aircraft," an airport spokeswoman said.

An airport spokeswoman said a full emergency procedure had been declared but the plane landed safely and the pilot required no further assistance.

All 130 passengers disembarked the flight safely and have been put on an alternate flight.

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