An article last week in The Australian reported complaints of off-site parking operators being squeezed out of the market by the new seven-storey car park at Melbourne Airport. With construction only just commencing and the car park’s scheduled opening in 2015, the complaint surely couldn’t be about the pricing of car parking (yet).
The issue at the moment involves the airport’s introduction of new Ts&Cs for the shuttle buses accessing the airport, coming from the long-term, off-site car parks. In an attempt to curb congestion, the airport has redirected buses from using the departure area to drop-off zones at the arrivals area only. Along with that is a change in the fees for shuttle buses, as well as a staged increase which will be implemented over the next two years. Operators claim that the increases in access fees are unfair competition as they will need to pass this on to their customers in higher parking fees.
Some operators have reportedly lodged a complaint with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. The Airport has responded claiming that the changes were made after consultation with the operators, and that the increases are being introduced gradually so operators could accommodate the increase. The reality is that the products offered by the Airport are aimed at a totally different market segment….
One of the reasons that some operators will feel the pinch is that a new license plate recognition system is now in place to calculate fees, as opposed to the previous system which was based on ad-hoc reporting and an honour system. This will undoubtedly result in more fees being collected for some operators, but the system is designed to be more equitable for all.
Melbourne Airport off-airport parking providers are not solely focused on the increase in access fees, but also raised concerns over the distinct difference in the quality of pick-up and drop-off locations being provided to off-airport providers compared to Melbourne Airport’s own car park shuttle, including services, walking distance and amenities.
Other matters also concerning providers is the new access fees which have not only increased, but are now charging for dropping off, where previously only a pick-up was charged.
In addition to these Melbourne Airport has rolled out an aggressive pricing structure and extreme discounting of its parking services which includes a best price guarantee.