Visiting the airport? That'll be $22, thanks

Company figures seen by The Age show that the airport expects to reap $21.74 from each of its 30 million passengers this financial year, with international passengers the real money spinners.

According to the company documents, domestic passengers are expected to pay $11.50 each in landing fees and terminal charges in the year to June 2013, compared with $19 in terminal charges and check-in counter charges for international passengers.

International passengers are also budgeted to spend more: $11 each on retail and duty free, versus the $8.50 retail spending estimate per person.

The documents also show that Melbourne Airport expects passengers to spend $4.25 each on car parking and 80ยข on car rentals - and it is budgeting on revenue of $6.7 million from ground transport, including $2.2 million from taxis.

Melbourne Airport declined to answer questions yesterday on the appropriateness of its car parking charges, after The Age revealed that its 23,000 car spaces would deliver 20 per cent of its $651 million annual income. This is almost double the percentage of Sydney Airport, and according to RMIT public transport expert Paul Mees, excessive by international standards.

An airport spokeswoman also declined to answer whether it would follow Sydney's lead in offering discounts for online bookings.

At a recent annual "stakeholder update", Melbourne Airport chief executive Chris Woodruff poked fun at airports' reputation for money-making.

Discussing the airport's new "Ring & Ride Zone", an area in which drivers can wait for an arriving passenger for up 20 minutes free of charge, Mr Woodruff purposely stumbled on the word 'free'.

"You can now wait for your arriving passengers ... you can now wait for your arriving passengers ... free, yes, free," he told a laughing crowd. "And I tell you what - running airports for 23 years, I still can't get used to saying the 'f' word."