Poor Service, Expensive Parking But Australia's Monopoly Airports Are Making More Money Than Ever

Sydney Airport. Getty

Australian airports are increasing profits from booming demand but can barely keep their service record at a satisfactory rating.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has released its annual Airport Monitoring Report which found more investment will be needed if airports are to deal with congestion, meet future passenger growth and improve service levels.

“For the second year in a row, only one airport achieved a quality of service rating higher than ‘satisfactory’ while there were continued signs of congestion,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

The watchdog reports on airports every year because of concerns the airports will seek monopoly profits to the detriment of consumers.

Sydney Airport, which has improved its profit margins per customer by 1.5% and for air service by 2.6%, had the lowest overall quality of service among monitored airports.

Sydney Airport, where one hour’s parking costs $16 compared to $6 in Perth, has the highest car parking revenue per car park space.

Each car space brings in $7,048 a year in revenue and the margin on that is 68.8%

Passengers’ ratings for Sydney Airport were unchanged at ‘satisfactory’ during 2012-13.

  • Passengers’ perceptions of kerbside space congestion at both the international and domestic terminals fell to ‘poor’.
  • Passengers’ rating of check-in times at the international terminal increased from ‘satisfactory’ to ‘good’.
  • Airlines’ ratings for Sydney Airport decreased within the ‘poor’ category.
  • Ratings for availability of parking bays fell to ‘very poor’.
  • Ratings for the availability of taxiways and standard of aprons fell from ‘satisfactory’ to ‘poor’.
  • Ratings for availability of runways rose from ‘poor’ to ‘satisfactory’

Here are the rating for each airport:

Overall, Brisbane was the only airport to improve its quality of service.

The ACCC reports annually on the performance of Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney airports.

All airports also reported higher car parking revenues in 2012-13. And they all reported growth in revenues and margins from aeronautical services.

Strong growth in both domestic and international passenger numbers and increases in some aeronautical charges contributed to this result.

“With growing profits and limited competition airports are in a position to improve their capacity and the quality of service,” Mr Sims said.

The report argues that continuing signs of congestion suggest that despite recent investment, it is not clear that the type, size and timing of the investments have added sufficient capacity to avoid aeronautical and landside congestion.

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