Australasian airlines, including Qantas and Air New Zealand, have made moves to fight excessive airport fees for consumers by setting up a new advocacy group for the aviation industry.
The move comes after a report from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which claimed Australian airlines and airline passengers had paid up to $1.6bn too much for airport access and infrastructure over the past 10 years.
ACCC chairman Rod Sims has identified the concerns of airlines over additional fees. He has also called for his organisation to be given regulatory powers over airport costs, singling out airport car parking profit margins as “quite amazing”.
“The airlines are concerned that they keep getting higher charges from the airports and, of course, they’ve got to pass that on to consumers,” he said. “They’re completely unregulated…the airlines would certainly support us having some role here, whether it’s a negotiate/arbitrate role, whether it’s some regulatory role on car parking fees.”
Since airports are not governmentally controlled, it is difficult for external agencies to gain power over airport infrastructure. This will be the main lobbying point of this new advocacy group, called Airlines for Australia and New Zealand (A4ANZ).
It will be funded by its major airline members, including Qantas, Virgin Australia, Air New Zealand and Jetstar, and will be chaired by former ACCC chairman Professor Graeme Samuel.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has already weighed in on the implementation of the group. He has supported its premise, saying it will work for the benefit of airlines and consumers alike.
“Airport fees and charges continue to increase while airlines are offering fares at levels significantly cheaper than they were over a decade ago,” he said in a statement. “A4ANZ’s goal is to achieve regulator reform that will promote a competitive and sustainable airline industry.”