Welcome back to Melbourne. That'll be $879, please

A BALLARAT doctor has been hit with a parking bill of almost $900 at Melbourne Airport after suffering a severe sinus condition when flying out of Australia that forced her to delay her return.

Raveen Purba, 33, left Melbourne in December on a 17-day family holiday to Malaysia and parked in what she believed was long-term parking at Melbourne Airport.

Dr Purba experienced excruciating pain during the flight and an ear, nose and throat surgeon in Malaysia diagnosed the sinus condition. ''The doctor discovered I had abscesses and I was in hospital,'' she said. Her illness meant her trip was extended to 44 days to ensure it was safe for her to fly home.

When Dr Purba arrived back in Melbourne yesterday she was horrified to discover her parking bill was $879 to leave the airport car park. ''It's exorbitant. I was close to crying,'' she said.

Dr Purba said that on a previous three-week overseas trip she had paid about $300 for parking.

''Of course, I am so angry. I thought the longer you park here, the cheaper it would be,'' she said.

Dr Purba called for help at the airport pay station and was told to email a customer care manager. She is waiting for a response.

She said compassionate grounds should be considered for her medical condition. ''They are making millions, there should be a flat rate,'' she said.

The chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Graeme Samuel, this week blasted Melbourne Airport over the high cost of parking and lack of competition. Parking generates a fifth of the airport's revenue at $103.9 million a year.

Melbourne Airport spokeswoman Carly Dixon rejected the criticism, saying the ACCC's findings lacked evidence and were irresponsible.

The federal government has ordered the Productivity Commission to investigate airport pricing - including the cost of parking.

The investigation will look at issues such as whether airports are using market power to influence parking prices and whether there is evidence of monopoly profits.

The commission has begun taking submissions and is expected to release a draft report in August.

A spokesman for state Public Transport and Roads Minister Terry Mulder said the Public Transport Development Authority to be created this year would commission a study on a heavy rail link to Melbourne Airport.

''It will examine options for the route, the feasibility of each and the possibility of combining the rail link with a future Melbourne-to-Sydney high-speed train,'' he said.

''The evidence for a rail link comes from Melbourne Airport's continuing growth, with around 26 million passengers a year, more than 12,500 staff and a current rise in international travellers of as much as 14 per cent a year.''

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