Multi-level car park at Melbourne Airport. Source: HeraldSun
MELBOURNE Airport off-site parking operators say they will be squeezed out by a new seven-storey 2600-space car park, construction of which will begin within days.
And tensions between the airport and the off-site operators is heating up over an increase in the charge for shuttle bus access.
The Herald Sun understands several operators have complained to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission about the charge, which kicked in yesterday and which they say will be passed on to travellers.
Previously, buses that ferry passengers from nearby car parks to the terminals could drop off travellers at the arrivals area free of charge and were charged $3.65 per bus for collecting passengers from the downstairs arrivals area.
Airport management recently moved all bus arrivals and departures to the downstairs forecourt in a bid to ease congestion.
Airport parking at Tullamarine Source: HeraldSun
Now buses with up to 12 seats are charged $2.30 every time they enter the forecourt.
The charges will increase to $3 in July and to $3.50 in July 2015, the same year the new airport car park is expected to open.
The airport made $114.7 million from parking last year, thanks to charges that are among the world's highest.
One off-site parking operator, who didn't want to be named, said they didn't believe the increase in charges was justified.
"We are not quite sure what that increase will mean but there will be an increase (for customers). They are forcing us to force our prices up by passing on access fees we can't afford."
But the airport said the changes were made after consultation with bus operators and the implementation was delayed so they could accommodate the "marginal" cost increase.
A new carpark is to be constructed at Melbourne Airport. Source: Supplied
Airport spokesman Anna Gillett said numberplate recognition had replaced an honour system and ad hoc approach.
"Melbourne Airport has been keen to ensure that the pricing structure and terms and conditions for ground transport operators are clear, readily accessible and equitable," Ms Gillett said.
"It was recognised that in implementing the system, some operators who had not been paying the required fees would initially experience an increased charge."
ACCC spokesman Meg Macfarlan said it didn't comment on complaints it may or may not be investigating.
Builder Leighton has won the contract to build the car park, which will cater for cars, the Skybus, public buses and taxis.