MELBOURNE Airport squeezed an additional $10 million out of consumers last financial year by increasing car parking prices.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's yearly airport monitoring report revealed the state's major airport earned revenue of $114.6 million from its car parking facilities - an increase of 10.4 per cent from the previous year.
The airport did not build any additional parking during this period and the increased revenue was due to some steep price increases. A four-day stay in the long-term, multi-level car park, for example, increased $40 to $139 in 12 months; a 14-day stay in the same car park increased by $100. Some of the long-term uncovered car parks also rose by up to $10 a day.
Melbourne Airport spokeswoman Anna Gillett could not give any explanation for the price rises, except to say that, ''people like to drive to Melbourne Airport … and the closer you park to the terminal, the more you pay''.
In releasing the report, the ACCC's chairman Rod Sims said the commission's yearly monitoring of the five major airports did not extend to regulation.
''These airports are monitored to provide information to the public and the government about the airports' performance. However, monitoring does not restrict them from increasing prices or degrading service standards to earn monopoly profits,'' he said.
While Brisbane has the most expensive car parking in the country, travellers parking at Melbourne and Sydney airports are charged the most for short-term parking. Melbourne also makes more revenue out of its car parking than any other airport, though it also has the most number of spaces.
The report also revealed that user satisfaction with Melbourne Airport dropped significantly in the past year. The airlines' satisfaction with the airport fell more than 20 per cent, while the overall quality of service, as rated by airlines, passengers and border agencies dropped 4.3 per cent. The airport still has a satisfactory service rating that is higher than Perth and Sydney; the latter was rated the worst in the country when it comes to quality of service.
Melbourne, however, is considered inferior to both Adelaide and Brisbane, with the Queensland capital scoring the highest satisfaction rating.
Much of the decreased satisfaction with the service at Melbourne Airport was due to complaints about insufficient check-in facilities and space for queuing during peak periods at both the domestic and international terminals.
Ms Gillett said that since the reporting period, the airport had added new check-in desks, two new gates and redeveloped its international departures area to cater for the increasing patronage.
''We understand those concerns … But we have done a lot of work since then. Over the next five years we are looking to invest over $1 billion to make sure that our facilities are up to what Melbourne and Victoria deserves.''
Passenger numbers at the airport increased 7.8 per cent in the past year to 28.3 million, making it the second-busiest airport in the country, after Sydney. Perth experienced a 9.4 per cent increase.