First Airlines, Then Cruise Companies, Now Airports Again

By | Category: Travel destinations, Travel rumblings

Airline passengers are familiar with the different ways that are used to raise the final price of tickets. Then cruise companies, (as we said last week) joined the bandwagon. Not to be left out airports like Edinburgh and Luton introduced charges to just drop people off. Now one airport – Sydney – in Australia has found another way to charge.
Use their duty free shop and a 1% levy is imposed on you if you pay by credit card. Any credit card.
I’ll concede that 1% isn’t a lot. Paying the equivalent of £20 for a bottle of malt whisky gives them only another 20p so most people will take the attitude of why bother. For two reasons, this could make the owners quite a lot of money. Firstly, Sydney is one of those airports where you can buy duty free after you land. Therefore there is the advantage of not lugging it around so it is appealing to lots of people. Especially if you have to change flights and there is a chance that liquids might be confiscated. The second reason is that, as the largest airport in Australia, it has more passengers than any other so the profit will be greater. I was told that the shop hadn’t introduced the charge, the airport had. So for every £10 million pounds equivalent of turnover in the shop, the airport will make £100,000 pure profit!
Recently those credit cards that use to charge higher levels of commission like American Express and Diners Club have reduced their rates so many more outlets accept them. Even my local garage which does the MOT for the car accepts Amex now. So retailers have been making some more margin anyway on some credit cards. Maybe this made them think there was more to be had by charging the consumer as well. And if you can get away with 1%, why not 2% or 2.5%? Many retailers used to impose a levy of about 2.5% of you used Amex or Diners. That was understandable in a way and I didn’t object because Amex had provided a better service to me than Mastercard or Visa had. But now I do object when the commission is the same.
There has been a lot of criticism of the airport in Sydney, and in particular of Macquarie who are the majority shareholder. Sydneysiders have no alternative. The nearest international airports are nearly 600 miles away, virtually the length of Great Britain. Until there is an alternative, passengers may wonder whether the regulatory authorities are giving them the support they deserve.

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