Airport Parking Is Still A Costly Way To Travel

Airport Parking Is Still A Costly Way To Travel

Parking at the airport is never cheap, but just how much it costs depends on where you live. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has just completed its investigation into the prices for airport parking at Australia’s five biggest airports, and the results aren’t pleasant reading.

Picture by Ross Land/Getty Images

As we pointed out last week when discussing Apple, the ACCC doesn’t generally investigate pricing anywhere that’s deemed to be a competitive market. Because airports are monopolies, however, the ACCC conducts a similar study every year, examining the cost of parking and the overall quality of airport service.

According to the report, this is what you’ll pay for parking in five major capital cities. (Click for a larger version of the table.)

Airport Parking Is Still A Costly Way To Travel

This table reinforces some obvious principles: short-term parking is a rort if you’re not returning the same day, and the larger the population, the pricier the airport parking. Sydney is still the most expensive, but hasn’t seen any changes, and neither has Adelaide (which has a major parking rebuild going on right now). Perth prices are up across the board, while the outcome in other locations.

So are those rises due to increasing demand, or just providers charging more? Again, it varies by city:

Total car parking revenue increased for all of the monitored airports. For Adelaide and Sydney airports, these increases were wholly attributable to an increase in demand for car parking services. For Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth airports, these increases in revenue were attributable to increases in both demand and prices.

You can avoid airport parking fees if you take public transport (we have a comprehensive guide to your options here), but that’s not a suitable solution for everyone. If you can’t persuade someone to drive you, parking can still work out cheaper than a taxi, especially in larger cities where the fare can easily top $60 or more each way.

What tactics do you use to reduce airport parking fees? Share your thoughts in the comments.


Lifehacker Australia editor Angus Kidman was weirdly shocked when he recently drove to Melbourne airport with a friend and used the car park, since he normally takes the SkyBus. Which, annoyingly, has just put up its ticket prices. His Road Worrier column, looking at technology and organising tips for travellers, appears each week on Lifehacker.


  • I would use public transport to Perth airport if it was even close to vaguely functional. The only choice is buses, which are slow and infrequent, so cars and parking is the only real choice. Thankfully, Perth long term parking is not hideously priced.
    Sydney has good PT to the airport, which alleviates the need to park. I have only ever needed to drive there once, thankfully.
    I catch taxis to/from Melbourne airport now. The shuttle buses go in the wrong direction for me, unfortunately. The cost is about the same for two txi rides as a week’s parking and is much more convenient, and nicer to the car’s paint.

    • Yeah, I paid for long term recently as to get my family of 5 with baggage to the airport via taxi would cost around 25% more than parking at the airport for a week. We did have a Tarago at the time though. Might be a different story now.

    • Only have to wait up to another 8 years (2020) for the Perth Airport loop (to Kalamunda) to be designed and put in place in the new Airport, thats if they don’t delay it to put more lanes/shrink hwys and fwys again

  • It’s a rip-off and a great deterrent. Every time I’ve gone to Sydney airport and parked there, I’ve never failed to find a spot within the first 30 seconds of arriving. My parents will be driving me and my 60kg of luggage to the airport on Saturday and my tactic will be to squeeze check-in and farewells within an hour before shooing them away. You don’t get pro-rata parking rates, so might as well spend the whole hour there.

  • I’ve used some of the “Park and Fly” options in Mascot surrounding Sydney Airport (where you drive to the lot, fill out the paperwork, then they drop you off at the Airport in your own car), but ever since I discovered the joys of carry-on-only travel (Osprey Porter 46 FTW) I usually just hop the train to Mascot and walk it. When they abolish the Airport station surcharge I expect you’ll see a reduction in parking prices – Lord that day can’t come fast enough.
    In Melbourne, I used Angus’ guide to navigate the Public Transport option (Bus to Broadmeadows and train in to town) – It was a Sunday and the bus service was somewhat infrequent – Not a problem for our day trip, but a bit slow as a method of conveyance. There’s also no bus stop per se at the Airport, the bus just pulls up next to the nature strip (past the tiger terminal, on the left opposite the Toll freight depot, for those contemplating it).
    Maybe it’s easier on weekdays?
    Gold Coast is worst of all, the public transport is slow, infrequent and incredibly expensive. In my case it worked out cheaper to hire a car than pay the return public transport costs.

  • It seems wrong that parking approaches the cost of your airfare itself when travelling just for an extended weekend. Yet, they still get away with it…

  • I almost always park off-airport (one of the Nudgee Road lots) in Brisbane, as the price, and level of service are competitive with on-airport parking.
    What I want to see the ACCC investigating, however, is what fee the airport charges these other parking suppliers (and taxis, and shuttles) just for the privilege of picking up and dropping off passengers.

    • +1 for Nudgee Road parking in Brisbane. I drive home that way every day, and there are signs up everywhere for $10/day parking w/free shuttle. Not sure what the duration/conditions are to get that price.

  • With a taxi set to cost me 120 each way, i think long term parking is best but at offsite locations, i could park for a month and pay less than a taxi.

  • i thought this info already did the rounds last week on the regular media outlets. at any rate, it’s not a “just completed” investigation and report in the sense that it’s “hot off the press”, since the snail-pace-slow newspaper outlets have already reported on this.

  • In Melbourne and Brisbane I’ve used off-airport parking services before. The best one I found was a smaller company called Alpha Airport Parking who actually did car hire as well. Significantly cheaper and they provide a shuttle to the airport from their offices straight t the terminal (and from the terminal back to your car when you return). Definitely worth checking out.

    • Jake is on the right path! Using off-airport parking is fantastic way to reduce parking costs. I use Ace Airport Parking in Melbourne Airport. I haven’t used Melbourne Airports long term car park or multi-deck in years!

  • I’ve always used Andrew’s Airport Parking in both Brisbane and Melbourne. I travel frequently for work and they are by far the cheapest and offer great customer service. Sometimes even get my car cleaned whilst im gone. The airport is a rip off and i would prefer my car to be secure at a 24 hour facility.

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