Australian airports have long been the source of scorn among travellers and visitors - especially for their seemingly excessive car parking prices. But according to a new report by the Productivity Commission, airport prices - for at least parking - aren’t unjust.
Does this mean we’re just a bunch of whingers then? In the report to the government, Australia’s major airports were found to have legitimate reasons for charging customers nearly $20 per hour for parking (which must mean we are).
The findings claim that Australia’s four biggest airports - Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane airports - were not using their market powers to price gouge customers, despite calling for greater scrutiny of airport parking operations.
“Car parking charges are not due to airports exercising their market power — the price of parking at-terminal can largely be explained by the value passengers place on convenience, the limited amount of land close to the terminal, and the need to manage congestion," the report, which can be read here, says.
According to the findings, Australia has the highest number of domestic airline seats per capita in the world, making Australia “heavily reliant on air transport”.
Passenger numbers have also doubled over the past 20 years, to about 160 million in 2017. The report offers some hints to help consumers save on parking fees.
“There are many ways for people to access the airport precinct, such as taxi, Uber, off-airport car parks and public transport and, while they are not perfectly substitutable for those wishing to park at the terminal, they do constrain the ability of airport operators to increase prices significantly,” it says.
Meanwhile, former Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chairman Professor Graeme Samuel described the report as "44 pages of the most superficial analysis that I've seen", the ABC reported.
"They've said, 'Oh, it's convenient to park at Melbourne Airport. That's why the charges are high',” said Professor Samuel, who now chairs airline consumer group, Airlines for Australia and New Zealand.
"Well, it is equally convenient to park at the Alfred Hospital, but the charges there are half of those that are charged by Melbourne Airport.
"Similar things occur with Sydney Airport and the like. It is a nonsense and frankly their analysis is very, very poor.”
The Productivity Commission report contradicts suggestions by the ACCC and IATA, who said Aussie hubs needed to rethink airport charges.
What are your thoughts on airport parking and prices?
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