Locals are concerned the potential privatisation of the airport will result in sky high prices.
Locals are concerned the potential privatisation of the airport will result in sky high prices. "Rob Cleary; Rob Cleary / Seen A"

Fears airport users may be stung under privatisation

A NUMBER of Advocate readers hold concerns the potential privatisation of Coffs Harbour Airport could push prices to exorbitant levels for the average airport user.

Coffs Harbour City Council may transfer the management of the airport to a private operator under a long-term lease after councillors voted last week to undertake an expression of interest to the open market.

While this could have several benefits, including the possibility of Coffs getting an international airport, a report released earlier this year by industry lobby group Airlines for Australia and New Zealand and commissioned by former ACCC boss Graeme Samuel found privatisation of airports led to higher costs for both airlines and passengers.

Advocate reader and former Canberra resident Ron Duncan believes councillors should look at the example of Canberra airport, saying costs such as parking had reached "ridiculous” levels.

"We saw what happened when they privatised Canberra airport. Everything the poor old passenger wants to do or use costs money now,” Mr Duncan said.

"We're just a little village up here really, we're not a big city. We're halfway between two major airports, we can easily commute.

"And why destroy our town by becoming international? Imagine the noise living around the Jetty. You can nearly touch the planes now.”

Canberra airport made headlines last year when it charged Qantas a whopping $20,000 bill after a plane was forced to divert at the airport due to bad weather.

Mr Duncan wasn't alone in his sentiments, with many readers taking to social media to share their concerns.

"As a resident I believe we should be providing an affordable service for residents, business and tourism and not see it as a way to gouge more money while holding a monopoly,” wrote Joe Cowling.

"Privatisation has proven to be favourable for companies and corporations but not the general public,” Sally Wilson wrote.

Coffs Harbour Chamber of Commerce has been calling for the privatisation of the airport, saying it could have great potential, particularly for local agribusiness and export, and for tourism.

Share your thoughts: Jasmine.Minhas@coffscoast advocate.com.au.



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