Sydney Airport ‘one of the worst’ in the world
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Sydney Airport has come under fire by some of the world’s leading airlines complaining of baggage-handling chaos which has led to dozens of international flights being delayed every day.
Representing major airlines, the Airline Operators Committee (AOC) said 9000 bags a month have been “mishandled” at the airport over the past three months, it was reported in the Sun-Herald on the weekend.
The report cited that these bags were not on board with passengers, and were forced to be forwarded on later flights.
A spokesman for the Sydney Airport Corporation Ltd, (SACL), confirmed there had been a series of delays, blaming the installation of its new baggage X-ray screening system.
"Some days there have been problems and others it's been working fine," he said.
"We feel we're over the hump in regard to those disruptions."
British Airways has complained that the mishandling of bags is now four times worse compared to last year, and has caused continuous disruption to its worldwide schedules.
According to the report, the airline’s London headquarters regards Sydney as “the worst airport in the world for punctuality”.
Qantas services have also been interrupted, with a service to Frankfurt on January 1 delayed on the tarmac for two hours due to luggage trapped in the system, forcing the pilot to eventually take off without a single bag on board.
A major overseas airline has conducted a detailed study of baggage delays finding that one piece of luggage checked in at 8.35am reached the aircraft at 10.35am, and another took from 8.41am until 10.03am, the report cited.
"At most international airports the whole process takes 10 minutes," an AOC member said.
"At Sydney, it can take more than an hour. It's completely unacceptable."
SACL are expected to come under pressure at next month’s AOC meeting, and may be forced to pay compensation for the costly delays and the high cost of paying expenses to passengers for missing luggage, according to the report.
"We have a history of telling the airport owners of our problems, but they only pay lip service and don't really do anything," an AOC member said.
"The airport is one big cash cow for [majority owners] Macquarie Bank and they are not feeding it."
Qantas Executive General Manager for Airports and Catering, Grant Fenn, was reported as saying they were in discussions with Sydney Airports Corporation regarding baggage delays.
"There are issues with the baggage claim system at the Sydney International terminal that are causing delays to baggage delivery and resulting in delays for aircraft departures,” he said.
"We are in discussions with Sydney Airports Corporation and are working with them to address these issues."
Executive Director of the Board of Airline Representatives of Australia, Warren Bennett, has written to members complaining about rent rises for airlines.
"How many ways can SACL find to gouge airlines? The options are seemingly endless."
Mr Bennett accused SACL of “purely monopolist tactics” citing Korean Airlines which has been charged rent increases of 14.5 per cent in 20 months, whilst Air New Zealand faces a 4.6 per cent rise followed by 4 per cent increases over the next three years.
"We want the situation drawn to public attention because we are sick and tired of being blamed for aircraft delays and lost luggage," an AOC member said, it was reported.
In the last quarter, the airport generated revenues of $167.8 million compared with approximately $106.5 million a quarter before Macquarie Airports took a majority stake in mid 2002.
Commercial trading, including car parking, has reaped a revenue hike of more than 9 per cent to $21.8 million per quarter, and retail revenues increased 3.9 per cent to almost $40 million.
The airport has also been slammed by consumer groups and stakeholders saying the high cost of using Sydney Airport has benefited operators to rake in huge profits as financial results have shown.
“They have got us over a barrel,” Australian Consumers Association, Norm Crothers said.
“There’s no competition because they own and run everything. It’s a premium service to be able to park there and they are going to charge as much as they can get away with.”
A Sydney Airport spokesman said the prices were fair, saying the fees and charges levied are compatible with “what you see around Australia”.