CHOICE membership

Airports - the gold standard of monopoly?



I suppose it goes back to the days when only the wealthy or professionals could afford to travel, as it was considered a luxury. Maybe it is still a luxury, but the masses can afford to fly today!


My wife and I have just completed back to back trips on the Indian Pacific and the Ghan. Travelling from Perth to Sydney and four days later Adelaide to Darwin and yes it is expensive- compared to a cruise but the GSR Great Southern Rail have to pay over $100,000 to use the rails and service charges for the engines. On top of that they pay (to my knowledge) a full wage to their employees. The food and service was superb and all the alcohol, and excursions are included. We made a number of friends with the crew and met many interesting fellow travelers. On a trip like this ( four days three nights on the Indian Pacific and three days two nights for the Ghan) the crew is what can be the difference between a ho hum and an enjoyable trip. It was a pleasure not to have to bring out my wallet once as everything is included. Top marks to GSR and the Crew.


For someone who wants to do a cross country train journey I can imagine the Ghan would definitely be on the list, but in terms of transit point A to point B for ‘locals’ they are not a viable option - and that was entirely their choice to remove that part of their service and cater only to the tourist market.


They are an option though- there are passengers who use these trains to get from A to B as there is possibly no alternative.


It goes back to the root of political survival. When they want more tax revenue by whatever name, it is politically safer to rob visitors than increase the burden on their constituents, who might vote against them for doing so. Airport taxes, rental car taxes (from airport locations), hotel taxes, … , … ,


Don’t blame the regulators, who are never given the power or financial support necessary to take on the ‘big end of town’ - and are often headed by people who have been plucked from that ‘big end’! Foxes and hen-houses.

This should never surprise. You get more money for a monopoly, so you can tell the former owners what a great deal you’re giving them for their tax dollar.

Watch and see how the NBN is sold. Again, it is an effective monopoly. These should always be kept out of private hands, because we know what will happen - but some people think government shouldn’t run businesses, and some governments see bargain basement selloffs of assets as good both for the budget and for their friends who are interested in buying.

Isn’t it lovely how democracy works.


Hi I have recently had to drive my son to the Airport in Perth for his Fifo Job and I have found that the cost of parking at the airport in my opinion is at a ridiculously out of touch price. Does anyone else feel the same way about their regional Airports?


Same problem here on the Gold Coast @archer_bryan.

Outrageous priced being charged. Recently the GC City Council has put 2hr restrictions on non resident parking in the streets near the airport, because so many cars were being left there to avoid the charges, some for extended periods. It’s amazing how much clearer the streets are now during the day.

Mind you, I wonder how long it will be before the cost of a parking ticket is cheaper than the fees being charged for parking?

The other exasperating thing is there is nowhere to park and sit in your vehicle while waiting for passengers to get out of the terminal. They have the standard pick up point, but there is only space for about 10 vehicles, and the airport’s no-parking security enforcers move you on very very quickly unless people are actively loading into the vehicle.


It’s a pitty some opportunist company has not opened a drive in resteraunt near the Airport with free parking I am sure the public would patronise such a venture rather than pay for parking.


Don’t worry, you can be assured the cost of a parking ticket will rise commensurately when the cost of parking gets high enough. It is what pollies (councils) do to protect business profits and their own coffers.


There are a few airports with Maccas very close by on airport property or close enough. But try to find a car park at it during the day!


How totally apoplectic! I have a similar vision. It does not need any drug induced state of mind to be revealed.

There is a vital lesson in how the privatisation of our once public owned and controlled airports has turned out. It shows how private equity can take unfair advantage of any business opportunity. The NBN, Toll Roads/tunnels, ports etc.

It’s encouraging to see that the views expressed in this topic see past the outcomes to the root cause.

For our future benefit any privitisation of infrastructure or business opportunities should provide for an open book public reporting requirement. It still defies logic that if a private investor can find the cash to buy in and to make a suitable return, the Australian Government can’t directly or indirectly facilitate such an outcome to keep these assets in our hands. What was part of the intended purpose of the “Future Fund” again?

The electricity generation, distribution and retailing industry has similar issues and is grappling with similar issues in a more public way. I’d suggest this is only due to the more immediate impact on consumers and some state government political pragmatism. Something the Federal Government is now trying to buy into - for motives that may be less noble than might be stated publicly.

The federal policy of restricting funding to states that do not sell off assets is a key factor in all of these outcomes.

Brisbane Airport history under private equity may become a diamond encrusted version of the vision of this topic. It along with Tullermarine in Melbourne had room to expand many times over. It would take too many words to pull apart the respective business models.

Simply the private equity owners use a financial model that relies on growth in the value of the asset. IE Inflation, demand, value adding and for airports - growth through expansion. It is a lot like investing in residential property where you borrow heavily to buy the asset and rely on the rental income over time plus asset value growth to make a windfall relative to your up front investment.

For a long term lease the investor needs to be more aggressive in generating returns. The fiasco over the Brisbane Airport second runway and just who should fund it showed just how little power even our Federal Government retained over the current owner.

When looking at the impacts and costs to the consumer it is easy to be distracted. That’s why there is a marketing/advertising industry full of bright people who sell the impossible. Just look to Gruen on ABC TV for proof.


In some cases, it seems that airport and toll road operators have heavily lobbied govts/councils to have parking and/or street access restricted, to force more people to use their vastly overpriced facilities.

They have even been known to set up or support protest groups to “assist” this process. :frowning:


That’s clearly of concern, but an even bigger one is all the high-level stuff that happens out of our sight. There are lots of examples like airports as above, but also the future of NBN, and the present shemozzle with power supply sources.

Putting completely to one side all political and climate debate emotion, we shouldn’t ever have a situation where carpetbaggers could buy major assets and then be allowed to screw us blind.


What is so disappointing is that it seems ok to charge rates for these services and other standing charges above inflation, like shire rates, electricity, gas, transport costs parking private health care and many others. But what about the wage rises to cover the increases. They say Australian workers are one of the highest paid, but with scant regard to controlling increases for public utilities and services, they need it to keep pace.


Voters world-wide are voting for conservative interests that represent the most wealthy. Here is a snapshot that should be sobering, not that many of us are not already acutely aware.


Just returned from the airport at Brisbane and paid $18.00 for 35mins. Just five minutes over the 30 minute cut off.

Despite a brief reprieve after the ACCC took an interest little has changed.

Should the fee actually be a pro-rata on time after the first 30 minutes up to the next tier or cut off?

Of course it should. And reasonably rounding it to the nearest dollar would make no difference to the way the change is issued if you paid cash.

Is the ACCC on the ball? It might be if this was an outcome of it’s last look at how all parking stations charge. Or is it that the ACCC is powerless to make such a change and we need to release the “Kraken/Katter” on this one?


… about a main course curry take-away. I’d much rather the curry …

You make a good point about the tiering - other than my cynicism suggesting it is carefully constructed to look like a bargain but rip people off - while blaming the late plane - I wonder whether it can be justified over something like a flat 60c per minute charge? its no technical challenge, the guy out the back going hammer an tongs on the abacus retired years ago …


One of the gotchas in the discussion is the time between prepaying at a kiosk machine and getting out the gate. Ever been in a car park traffic jam or on level 5 driving around and around up and down? Are you happy to pay $0.60/minute for that luxury experience? You essentially pay for that time either way, but tiered it seems more innocuous (marketing psychology).

Another of those wonderous issues (eg) was being behind a driver in the single cash line who did not understand how the kiosk machines worked (ATL USA airport). He had his payment receipt but not his validated ticket…a bit over 15 minutes to sort, or $9 spent in the paying queue at $0.60/minute.

I doubt any single method would make everyone happy. But I agree the airport parking gouge is just that.


I sent a letter of disapproval to my local airport about the parking rates. They were so very apologetic but told me in simple terms that they were a private entity and not subject to government regulation.