AUSTRALIA’S airlines have slammed the “excessive profits” of the country’s privatised airports and called for greater government regulation to curb their monopoly powers.
Airlines for Australia and New Zealand (A4ANZ) yesterday released a report on the performance of the country’s airports since privatisation, in which the group blames “light-handed regulation” for high costs and profits that are in some cases more than double those of other airports overseas.
“Australian passengers and our economy are paying the price of airport privatisation in the absence of appropriate constraints on monopoly power,” the report says.
“Moreeffective regulatory pressure is required to prevent excessive profits by airports and return more value to consumers and the economy.”
The report has been issued ahead of a planned inquiry by the Productivity Commission and says the promised benefits of privatisation have been overshadowed by high costs for airlines and passengers, without any improvement in the quality of airport service.
The report calls for greater powers to be given to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC), which has expressed its own concerns at airport monopolies.
A4ANZ says the ACCC should be enlisted to arbitrate in negotiations between airports and airlines, in a method similar to those currently used in the US and Canada.
“What this report reveals is the ability of the airports to use (their) monopoly position to earn excessive profits, and that they have been doing so in the absence of a credible regulatory threat,” said A4ANZ chief executive officer Alison Roberts.