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Australian airports continued to lose money on aviation last year

written by Jake Nelson | August 14, 2023

Rob Finlayson shot these aircraft at Sydney Airport.

Australia’s four major airports continued to see losses in their aeronautical operations in the 2021–22 financial year, the ACCC has revealed.

Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth Airports all lost money on aeronautical services last year, with Melbourne down the most at 38.8 per cent, and Perth the least at 0.05 per cent. Sydney and Brisbane recorded losses of 27.4 per cent and 5.9 per cent respectively.

“While there was a rebound in passenger numbers in the latter part of 2021-22 as domestic and international borders reopened, all four airports still reported financial year operating losses from aeronautical services,” ACCC Commissioner Anna Brakey said.

“The airports were still profitable overall as their non-aeronautical operations, including parking and leasing, more than offset the losses on aeronautical services.”

The competition watchdog’s latest Airport Monitoring Report showed that Sydney recorded an 11 per cent operating profit for FY22, Melbourne an eight per cent profit, Brisbane a 32 per cent profit, and Perth a 42 per cent profit. All four were well down on 2018–19 levels.


The report also found that domestic travel in the first three quarters of 2022–23 was between 84 and 107 per cent of the same period in 2018–19, while international travel ranged between 61 and 71 per cent.

The report comes as domestic travel continues to languish in Australia, with domestic traffic at Melbourne Airport slipping back to 90 per cent of pre-COVID-19 levels, while international traffic rose to 92 per cent.

It follows a similar situation in Sydney last month, which led to its CEO telling big airlines to use their take-off slots or gift them to smaller carriers to increase competition.

The ACCC has called on the government to strengthen its monitoring role by requiring airports to provide more detailed data on aeronautical, carpark and landside access services, as well as updating service quality measures that the major airports must report to the watchdog.

“Airports perform a vital role in supporting economic activity in Australia, and the changes to the monitoring regime that we’ve recommended should benefit airport users and, ultimately, the Australian public,” said Brakey.

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