Australian airports are rated poorly, Sydney the worst says ACCC

By Chris C., April 9 2014
Australian airports are rated poorly, Sydney the worst says ACCC

The ACCC’s latest Airport Monitoring Report shows a sizeable increase in passenger numbers across Sydney, Melbourne (Tullamarine), Brisbane and Perth airports, but only a marginal improvement in service standards across the board.

Collating survey data from passengers, airlines and border agencies – along with other data collected by the ACCC – the 2012-13 report revealed that Sydney’s overall quality of service was again rated the lowest among monitored airports, while passenger satisfaction ratings remained unchanged at ‘satisfactory’.

In light of rising congestion, ACCC Chairman Rob Sims expressed concern over ‘just in time’ investment – with a pattern emerging of airport investments merely playing catch-up rather than staying ahead of the increasing demand from both airlines and passengers.

Here are the highlights of the 353 page report.

Sydney Airport

Passenger numbers saw a 4.2% increase in 2012-2013, rising to 37.8 million. Following the increase, passengers’ perceptions of kerbside space congestion at both the international and domestic terminals fell to ‘poor’.

Inside the terminal, passenger ratings of check-in times increased from ‘satisfactory’ to ‘good’, although ratings given by airlines further decreased within the ‘poor’ category – including the availability of taxiways and standard aprons, along with the availability of aircraft parking bays – dropping to ‘very poor’.

Ratings for runway access increased to a satisfactory level, with Sydney Airport continuing to report the highest aeronautical revenues and margins per passenger among monitored airports – although on the whole, its operational performance is the weakest among these airports, with ratings never having risen above ‘satisfactory’.

Sydney again reported the second lowest car parking revenue as a proportion of total airport revenue, although has better asset utilisation with the highest car parking revenue and margins per car space.

Melbourne Airport

With the highest car parking revenue as a proportion of total airport revenue and the second highest margin per car park space, Melbourne’s facilities seem to be coping well for the airport’s 30 million annual passengers (up by 5.7%), with average passenger quality of service ratings remaining at ‘good’.

However, with private vehicles and taxis the main form of transport to the airport, passengers continued to express concern with landside services and facilities – particularly with the current arrangements for kerbside pick-up and drop-off.

Quality indicators for a number of aeronautical services are below ‘satisfactory’ – the availability of aprons was rated as ‘poor’, and aircraft parking bays as ‘very poor’.

The airport’s current major investments include redevelopments of terminals two and three, which will see new aprons constructed to meet capacity requirements and repaving some of the existing taxiways, although the current runway system will be capacity constrained within the next 10 years.

The growth of the airport will also be a problem for the surrounding infrastructure, with potential long-term solutions requiring state government involvement. Suggestions included widening the existing freeway or constructing a rail link to the city’s CBD.

Brisbane Airport

As the only airport to receive a ‘good’ service rating from ACCC, passengers’ assessment of landside services saw an improvement – particularly for kerbside and taxi facilities, which had been falling in the previous three years.

Airlines’ ratings decreased but remained within the ‘satisfactory’ range, although the availability of aircraft-related services at Brisbane Airport remained a concern for airlines. Runway capacity constraints saw the airlines’ ratings plummet from ‘good’ to ‘very poor’ in just two short years.

With a 1.9% increase on passenger numbers bringing the airport to 21.6 million today, the congestion issue won’t be truly alleviated until 2020 when Brisbane Airport’s parallel runway project is due for completion.

The airport had the second highest car parking revenue relative to total airport revenue (13.6%), and reeled in the second highest annual revenue per car space – $5,140.

Perth Airport

Overall, Perth Airport’s quality of service rating is satisfactory, with average ratings remaining unchanged at ‘good’ for standard of passenger-related services, although the ratings received by airlines remained poor.

In 2012-13, passenger numbers experienced a 10.3% growth to 14.7 million, driven mainly by FIFO services associated with the mining industry.

The airport reported the largest percentage increases in aeronautical revenue and margins per passenger among monitored airports, with 20.5% and 45.0% rises respectively. Despite this, ground handling services dropped from satisfactory to poor.

The main improvements were seen around the availability of runways and aprons, with airline ratings jumping from poor to satisfactory – while the airport continued to have the cheapest monitored parking, producing the lowest revenue and margins per car park space.

The full 2012-13 ACCC Airport Monitoring Report is available on the ACCC website (PDF, 5.22MB).

Further reading: We've researched the cheapest parking options for Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane airports – you might be surprised how much you can save!

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Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Nov 2011

Total posts 243

There isn't enough immigration counters, security check lanes and custom checks especially international terminals for departures and arrivals. I have done transfers from domestic to international and vice versa. You can easily miss a flight with the transfer time of 2 hours given for the airline (assuming plane is on time).

The queue can take as long as 30 minutes per passenger to go through each counter before going through the next counter.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2204

Ya, SYD is pretty bad at this. My pet peeve is the closure of the SQ-side outbound immigration - formerly, it was possible to be dropped off at the SQ end of the departure hall, check in straight after entry and then immediately walk through and clear outbound immigration. (The entrance to this is now shuttered, but you can sort of still see it near the row of ATMs at the K end.) Now you need to walk all the way back to the QF counters and clear outbound immigration there, then trek all the way back to the SQ lounge and gates.



Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 65

Interesting statistic re BNE parking - doesn't reflect reality very well though. Just had 12 days in the undercover carpark attached to BNE International - $150 -  v. reasonable I thought. At Gold Coast airport same thing costs $236.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Sep 2013

Total posts 466

Its all about service and Australian airports lack it big time.With no competition you are screwed from the outset and as Sagidec stated it does not stop there.Over priced tranfers between terminals that are free in most parts of the world,limited or no public transport,over priced food/bev and no cordination.....and no reason to change.


12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1519

IMHO Sydney’s weakest point is international to domestic transfer and Melbourne’s one definitely parking and curb access. IMHO they have to prohibit access of public vehicles to rump altogether and instead make first 30 min in multilevel parking free.

Virgin Australia - Platinum

21 Dec 2012

Total posts 86

Nothing on Adelaide and the Gold Coast the two airports I spend most time at! 

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