CHART OF THE DAY: What Every Australian Traveller Knows About Sydney Airport

The ACCC has its report out today on the performance of Australian airports over 2011-2012.

It measures performance based on feedback from passengers, airlines and airport services such as border agencies.

There are a range of great charts in it but none that tells a story quite as familiar as this one – Sydney Airport being the undisputed champion of poor service and high costs amongst the nation’s airports.

Not that another airport made it across to the high-quality side. But at least they’re cheap.

Look at that orange dot sitting up in the top left quadrant, perfectly encapsulating Sydney Airport’s outrageous prices ($4 luggage trolleys! Get ’em while they’re essential!) and shocking parking fees, backed up with long lines for everything from customs to coffee.

“The 2011-12 report shows that monitored airports continued to be profitable but the overall quality of service was lower at all airports compared with the previous year,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

“Overall, Sydney Airport is perhaps of greatest concern given the pattern of price and earnings increases, lower service standards and low investment levels compared with other airports,” Mr Sims said.

Sydney’s not alone in dropping in its ratings. The orange arrows on the right of the chart below show all of the major Australian airports were down on the overall rating for quality of service.

But note that Sydney posted neat increases in aeronautical revenue, revenue per passenger, while the operating margin per passenger was up a handy 6.4%. Then there’s the depressingly telling number in the last column.

The full report is available here.

Update: Sydney Airport has been in touch and has offered the following response:

Our costs are highest among the airports monitored because we have the most international passengers (42% of the total) coming through Sydney. These passengers require more facilities such as Customs and quarantine and security screening. The ACCC uses aeronautical fees as a proxy for costs, we come out on top as the most costly. As a result you can’t fairly compare us against airports that have less international passengers over the year.

On service quality, the ACCC surveys airlines and passengers and our passenger ratings are the highest in a decade. All airports were rated as satisfactory overall.

This report is 10 months old – since the reporting period concluded, we’ve delivered projects including a 4,500m2 expansion of the T2 terminal which provided five additional gates, more check-in facilities and upgrades across the airport.

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