Old 17th Jul 2017, 03:48
  #17 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: In da Big Smoke
Posts: 2,320
Here's the article:

Australians fly. A lot. Our island nation and our sheer geographical size mean air travel is part and parcel of our connectedness here and across the globe. And so, in this respect, our airports are our lifeblood.

We have fly in, fly out workers. We have flying doctors and emergency services, a burgeoning airfreight sector, as well as myriad charter operators in the tourism sector.

More than three million passenger journeys occur between more than 180 airports in Australia every week. We welcome 642,000 overseas visitors and farewell about 737,500 Australians on outbound trips on 58 international airlines each month.

In 1996, when the federal government still operated our major airports, it managed the movement of 67 million passengers a year.

Today, under the private ownership model, this number has grown to more than 154 million passengers.

In addition to tourism and international education being among our biggest export industries, our airports handle more than $100 billion of freighted exports and imports every year — such as gold, computers, food, flowers, industrial components and mail.

Each one of these journeys begins and ends at our airports.

In large part, Australia’s efficient connectedness by air is what it is today because of ongoing investment in our airports by their private sector owners and operators.

This month marks 20 years since the first three of those transitions took place at Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth airports. Many more followed in 1998. Since then air travel and the development of our airport economies in Australia have not looked back.

In its most recent regulatory report the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission indicated the operators of the biggest four airports in Australia invested $7bn across a 10-year period.

That investment has helped attract new carriers and open new routes and destinations for Australian passengers and competition that keeps downward pressure on airfares.

It has funded upgrades to infrastructure so airlines from around the world can land and transport Australian passengers on Airbus A380s.

It has cultivated commercial and retail business to the point where 100,000 Australians are now employed within airport precincts across the country.

It has delivered better security and facilities to ensure passengers begin and end their journeys safely.

It has helped to preserve regional air travel, with major airports and small council airports investing to support regional services across the country.

Through investment, airport operators also have developed the terminals that have underpinned the establishment and growth of low-cost carriers, Virgin and Jetstar among them.

Ongoing investments such as these are one of the reasons carriers such as Virgin and Jetstar have been able to keep airfares low.

Advances such as the self-serve technology being rolled out by airports are not only streamlining the check-in process for passengers but also are helping airlines to reduce their costs.

In fact, all of the investment by major airports in aeronautical infrastructure is designed to facilitate operational efficiencies for airlines and minimise their capacity constraints.

Improvements to runways, taxiways and aircraft parking foster growth, sustainability and a safe and competitive aviation market. And these investments have continued despite the return on aviation assets falling during the past five years. These are long-term investments funded primarily by Australian families through their superannuation.

This is in stark contrast to major public infrastructure throughout Australia — take ports, roads and urban public transport, for example — many of which bear the scars of systemic financial neglect and a failure to future-proof.

The taxpayer has not had to prop up our major airports for 20 years in the way the public purse has been relied on in every other infrastructure sector.

That is thanks to the decision made those two decades ago to open the doors to private investment and let innovation and enterprise thrive.

Investment by airport operators has not only proven vital to the customer experience.

It has provided the dynamic operational environment airlines require and has cultivated economic opportunity for the countless businesses and other services now run from, or as part of, airports across the country.

Caroline Wilkie is the chief executive of the Australian Airports Association
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