Although airports are doing what they can to streamline the way travellers move through the terminal, airport operators say border processing remains one factor that is beyond their control.
Perth Airport chief executive Brad Geatches highlighted his frustration with the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service on a recent day when 500 arriving international passengers from Emirates, South African Airways and Qatar flights had to wait 53 minutes to be processed.
“Stand in a queue for 53 minutes and see how that feels. It’s appalling and it’s a disgrace to our nation and a discredit to our industry,” Geatches told delegates at the Australian Airports Association national conference on the Gold Coast on Monday.
“The service outcomes at our borders are unacceptable and need to be fixed.”
Geatches noted Perth’s international arrivals area was newly opened 12 months ago and was only half full despite the long queues.
Brisbane Airport chief executive Julieanne Alroe said the Australian government’s priorities were more focussed on tracking who was coming into and out of the country.
“I think the government is far more worried nowadays about anticipating who is moving through our borders, coming and going, and trying to anticipate and intervene early,” Alroe said.
“The problem is they have done that without sufficient investment yet in the self-service product.”
Alroe noted the departures self-service facility at Brisbane Airport was still in a trial phase, and predicted airports in the region were likely to invest in more of their own self-service products.
The chairman of Australia’s newest airport operator, Wagners, John Wagner, said there must be some way to come to some agreement with the government over these issues and the charges for services.
“The whole industry, and you are probably doing this, needs to really get together on this point and just sort of demand some change at a very senior level within government,” Wagner said.
Wagners built Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport, which received its first regular public transport flights on November 17 when a QantasLink Dash 8 Q400 arrived from Sydney.