Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Who will benefit from the Sydney Airport Masterplan

Well of course the simple answer is 'Sydney Airport'

The answer should be 'Passengers'

Lets examine why its not the answer.

This week Sydney Airport announced what it calls an '. . .exciting new vision for the airport.' In short they are proposing the amalgamation of international and domestic terminals, so that you can travel both internationally and domestically via the same terminal.  You will do this via the two major airline alliances - One World - that is Qantas's alliance, and the other (unspoken) is likely to be Star Alliance - which Virgin Australia is rumoured to be joining.

OK - what are the good points of this - for the three major interest groups: airlines, Sydney Airport, and passengers:

Airlines:
  1. it will create more stickyness to particular airlines and alliances - if you come in on BA, then you will more easily transfer to Qantas Domestic, or Jetstar
  2. Run one terminal with staff concentrated in that terminal, rather than spread across 2 or more - Virgin is currently spread across 2 terminals, while Qantas/Jetstar is spread across all three
  3. No need to run a transfer desk and accompanying transport infrastructure
Sydney Airport (MAp)
  1. Instead of transfer passengers spending 3 kilometers in a shop free environment, transfer passengers will be guided through passageway after passageway lined with retail outlets, so they can be tempted by food, drink and goods at every opportunity - rents and turnover percentages accruing to MAp
  2. Will be able to make each airline responsible for the upkeep and renewal of their own terminal. Qantas wants to refresh the look - MAp will say - you spend the money, and we will up your rent!
  3. Potential increase in airport capacity - less aircraft repositioning, and movement across runways could see an increase in flights, without expanding runways etc
  4. Strengthen their monopoly in Sydney, and delay further plans for a competing 2nd airport in the Sydney Basin
  5. More shops, more rental icome
Passengers
  1. Easy transfer from domestic to international if travelling within the same alliance - if not - probably about the same as now, but possibly less easy, and/or more expensive
  2. At the moment if you go to the wrong domestic terminal - its pretty easy to change via a walkway. That won't be true with the new configuration
  3. The 'Ikea-fication' of transit around the terminal - you will have to traverse the longest possible route passing the maximum numbr of retail outlets to go from A to B (that was the guiding principle for the recent renovations of the International Terminal)
At the moment - none of the airlines or the tourist industry are bagging the idea, but then again, none of them are head-over-heals in support of it either. There is a lot more detail to come other than the shiny 3D animation video, and lots of opportunity for people to understand the positive and negative implications.

If you have access to the Australian Financial Review, I suggest that you read Chanticleer as well as articles by Andrew White and Michael Hobbs, and the Editorial on Tuesday 6 December.

Also worth waiting for is the report promised by the ACCC - this MAp masterplan is regarded as an attempt to head off any adverse findings from their proposed enquiry. Also see this article on Crikey

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