CHOICE membership

Airports - the gold standard of monopoly?



No - I agree it wouldn’t work for a pay at exit park, though I’ve never used one where I had to and always paid in the terminal or car park prior to exit. I figure if there is too much traffic to get out before the grace period expires its bad planning on their part and I’d push the button to summon the parking overlord. If the park only has pay at the gate then that theory is moot and the 0.60 per minute is still the issue. As an aside, my vehicle is equipped with ‘boom-gate assist’, which I did use once when the gate wouldn’t open, it was after hours (regional airport), the help button rang out quite a number of times and on trying to lift the gate found it locked down quite effectively by the mechanism …

I we define everyone=consumers I reckon the free option would come close :wink: it wouldn’t make the pirates running the park very happy though …


The rates at the time were $9 for the first 30mins. Then $18 for one hour. Under any reasonable consumer law this type of charging would be illegal. It needs to be pro-rata regardless of how reasonable or excessive the base rate is.

The effective rate is actually $0.30 per minute and gets less after the first hour.[quote=“TheBBG, post:40, topic:15416”]
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).

Hence $10.00 is the fairer charger for 33 minutes, $11.00 for 36 minutes etc up to $18 for 60 minutes assuming the charge is a fair reflection on the true cost of providing that service? You could take it to cents for credit payments, however for cash payment I recollect the change is in whole dollars only!

Your butcher cannot charge you for 2kg of mince if you ask for 1.2kg. You pay only for the measured weight. The same law needs to be applied to parking where the use is measurable.

The rate for one hour certainly is a rip off given $18 for one hour times 7 days in a week is $126. I recently parked long term for 10 days for almost the same cost with valet parking!

To get real value you might like to stay up to two hours for just another $4 for the extra hour, a total of $22. At this point BAC must clearly be into profit mode otherwise the extra hour would also cost another $18? Coincidentally very similar to the cost of an airport service train ticket from the city in Brisbane.

Other than free which might see the car park always full and unusable - a fixed base fee to cover the entry exit costs (EG $3.00 plus $0.25c/minute) might be what we should demand.

There are many other options noting the off site parking operators and shuttle services can be competitive for some instances. If you have someone to drop off or pick up who needs assistance to get through checkin or at pick up you have few options other than to use the car parks.


I visited the Cairns Domestic Terminal with my wife a fortnight ago, and whilst there, I needed to visit the rest rooms.
When it was time to do the paperwork, I was amazed and disgusted that the toilet rolls are very large rolls of unperforated, super thin paper.
After tearing off the first random length, I noticed that it was actually folded into two. I attempted to unfolded the tangled mess only to find that, even when unfolded, it was nowhere as wide as real toilet tissue. The only thing that could be done with it was to scrunch each length into a flattened mess.
Of course, there was no paper towel dispensers to allow hygienic hand drying, only electric hand dryers which a recent university article recommended not be used as they had proven that they spread contamination in the air, and to use paper hand towels instead.
I opted to give my hands a quick dry on the back of my polo shirt instead. I then had the privilege of stumping up with $11 for the carpark rip-off.
So, despite milking the airlines, the passengers, the shops, the charter operators, the taxis and the motorists at every possible turn, they are too cheap to at least provide real toilet tissue and paper hand towelling.


It’s approx 4weeks since I also had a similar opportunity to review the services at Cairns Domestic.

As a positive they have come a long way since the spider guarded weather board facilities with optional saw dust and old phone book.

Cairns airports facilities challenge this statement a little. The large endless roll holders have been relegated to the scrap heap elsewhere. The bacteria dispersing blowers are still common. No spiders, though.

The fundamental problem: How do you successfully challenge and enforce change on any enterprise in a privileged uncontested position that has a monopoly on its services?

The recent ACCC take on airport car parking had a brief moment in the sun, however we are now back to the status quo. The cost of an airport train ticket is equally unrealistic.

As I suggested previously - if the governments of the day choose to sell off or long term lease out public assets or key infrastructure, not enough is done to protect the consumer. Any such enterprise should be openly subject to public audit and scrutiny. As there is no competition charges can increase to cover inefficiency, negligent maintenance and poor decission making. There may also be risks of schemes created to inflate costs and transfer profits out of sight. Politely in return for the gift of a monopoly the books need to be open and reported on to the greater public without qualification.
Cairns and Mackay airports are owned by North Queensland Airports Pty Ltd. This is a private company. It can be difficult to determine how profitable it is, what dividends it delivers or whether there are other business relationships that affect its performance financially. Even the true cost base for the investors may be uncertain. The principal share holders are also difficult to access. The financial commitments and goals of each shareholder may differ. Assuming that the enterprise is meeting targets it seems a rather petty outcome that the airport cannot afford to provide a reasonable standard of poo paper, while it can fund expensive infrastructure, levy substantial tenancy charges and airport terminal usage fees.

Public listed companies EG BHP are a little more transparent. Share value is actively traded so they need to be. Even the directors fees and entitlements are public knowledge.


There has been some effect on parking charges at Perth airport they are now showing Led signs that show that the first hour is free in the long stay car park which was not commonly known.
I suppose that is some progress.


The Productivity Commission has released a report defending the rip-off airport car parking fees.

Former ACCC chairman, Grant Samuels, has given the report a well deserved spray.



I tend to agree with Mr Samuels!

I wonder what it would take to improve this situation. We’re already seeing $40/$50
parking charges for less than three hours in some cases, and alternative options to major transport hubs are typically also expensive and difficult to access. For example, at $15 per person on the privately owned Airport Link Company line in Sydney, you’re often ‘better’ off getting a cab to central station if you’re travelling with more than one person (and expect a signifcant wait outside of peak hours). The Skybus in Melbourne is $17.50, so it’s a similar value proposition under normal traffic conditions. Brisbane is a comparable situation from memory.

Contrast this to the cost of a city transfer at major airports in other countries:

  • Berlin Schoenefeld - EU 3.30
  • London Heathrow - GBP £6.00 (although perhaps cheaper if you end up using a travelcard)
  • New York JFK - USD $7.75

Distances, currency conversion and other factors mean an apples/apples comparison is not straightforward. However, by any stretch, getting to and from our major airports is both expensive and unneccesarily difficult IMO.


One thing would be to have pollies responsible enough not to appoint their ‘best mates’ (ideologically speaking) to positions such as head of the ACCC.

I maintain currency conversion is a furphy unless you are travelling internationally and need to buy/sell in other currencies, or you have a foreign currency account that you spend where you live.

If you live in Australia and your income is in $AUD and something is $15, it is $15. If you live in the UK and your income is in GBP and it is GBP15, it is GBP15. In the US with $USD it might be $15 too. Normalising costs to account for xrates is a distraction excepting for those travellers and foreign currency keepers. Although I agree making an effort to normalise it is useful, but in meaningful ways such as (eg) ‘minutes of work’ or a % or median of the average wage in each locality or country.

But yes, even with my ‘argument above’ it is clear we have an Australia Tax, justified by the ideologically like minded in high places, and their appointments.


True comparison is different if you are looking at local cost of living vs direct cost as a tourist.

It still leaves you wondering.
Narita Int Airport express to Tokyo.
Y2,820 (approx $36 Aussie if you are travelling)
65 mins

Brisbane Int Airport stopping all stations to Central
11 km approx
20 mins with stops.

Correct, there is absolutely no point comparing our fares to some other country. Even the unpadded fixed seats on the Brisbane Airtrain, half of which face the wrong way are different from the padded reclining seats with arm rests of the Narita express service. :wink:

I guess we pay extra in Brisbane for the random art work inscribed into the windows of our trains. :worried:


Lets compare apples with apples. Narita Express is a reserved seat train, food brought to your seat, with provision for luggage, quad lingual or more announcements etc, etc, the Brisbane train is not.

Narita Intl Airport Terminal 2 stopping some stations to Tokyo, no reserved seat, choice of two companies with differing routes

  • JR East (to Tokyo Station) 90 minutes 1320 yen (approx $16.50)
  • Keisei (to Nippori Station) 59 minutes 1240 yen, 1 change (approx $15.50) or 76 minutes 1030 yen direct (approx $13)

Alternatively for Haneda International Terminal, again choice of two companies, comparing to Tokyo Station

  • Tokyo Monorail/JR East 24 minutes, 1 change, 650 yen (approx $8.30)
  • Keikyu/Tokyo Metro 34 minutes 2 changes, 690 yen (approx $8.60)

Of note is Brisbane has an extra “airport” charge, the others don’t.


Thanks @alex.
I totally agree, the Narita Express is not Apples with Apples.
It’s more like comparing a perfectly ripe Bowen mango with a 6 moth old under ripened, floury cold stored apple. Narita is twice the price but ten times the pleasure and convenience.

Neither are the other two alternatives you list, nor the Haneda Tokyo monorail service anything like the Brisbane Airtrain experience. I’ve sampled all!

In respect of cost per kilometre, or average speed, all the Narita services make the BrisVegas and Syd-mite Airtrains appear and taste like an overly ripe banana.

The Tokyo monorail offers a panorama that Sydney might dream of. All for approx half the cost of looking at a tunnel wall approaching Green Square in Sydney, or looking down on Toombul Shopping Centre car park in Brisbane.

Per kilometre travelled the two Aussie Airtrains must be by several multiples the most expensive public transport in the nation. Per minute per seat they may be more expensive than seats to an Andrew Lloyd Webber live musical performance. Assuming that there is a spare seat to be had on the Sydney service! :grin:


… but in the event of a catastrophic crash, much less painful than said ‘musical’ … :rofl:


in part …

Parking profits remain strong

The four airports together earned $278.5 million in operating profit from car parking.

Perth, Melbourne and Sydney airports all earned lower profits from car parking, but profit margins remained strong at between 52.7 per cent at Perth and 69.9 per cent at Sydney Airport.

Drive-up parking prices in some instances fell, including drops of about 20 per cent on some parking rates in Melbourne and Brisbane. The ACCC says that this may suggest the airports are facing some competitive pressure from other transport options, such as rideshare, off-airport parking and public transport.

“While some prices have fallen, parking costs remain a bugbear for passengers using Australia’s major airports,” Mr Sims said.

“Motorists should continue to look for savings by pre-booking online or parking with an independent operator.”

Charges for landside access services, such as taxis, ride-share operators and buses, is a growing source of revenue for the airports.

The rest of the report is interesting of course … and we wonder why our air travel is so expensive …


Whilst waiting for a haircut today, I glanced at the local rag, The Cairns Post, as I usually do to look at the cartoons which are usually the only part worth reading.

However, today there was an article regarding the Qld Government owned Cairns Port Authority in relation to their totalitarian treatment of the local tourist vessels.

It stated that a 30 metre reef tour vessel operating out of the Cairns marina is being charged some $120,000 per annum in stark contrast to similar sized vessels in the Whitsundays and Port Douglas respectively being charged $40,000 and $50,000 per annum.

This type of Government mandated thieving not only rips off tourists and locals alike who go on these trips but also deters visitors from coming to the region due to the higher tour costs they will incur in comparison to other regions.

So if you thought that the airports were the “gold standard of monopoy” the Cairns Port Authority has upgraded it to the new “platinum standard of monopoly with embedded crown jewels”.

I may have been shorn at the barber shop today but these tour operators are being totally fleeced.