High price of airport parking
TRAVELLERS who park at the Ballina airport to catch a flight are being ‘ripped off’ at the pre-paid parking meters.
Motorists who leave their cars at the airport for anything over 24 hours are forced to pay two overnight fees of $12, a total of $24.
Drivers who parked overnight and for a few hours beyond the 24 cut-off have complained to The Northern Star, saying they should be charged one overnight fee and a day-parking fee – a total of $17 rather than $24.
The inflexible pay and display system, which provided parkers with a limited range of choices, was being investigated with a view to changing the software, airport manager Neil Weatherson said.
But it comes too late for disgruntled flyer Brian Pezzutti, who is boycotting the airport over its ‘huge parking fees’, and flying out of Lismore or the Gold Coast.
The Queensland airport charged only a little more for two days ($28), but had as a far greater range of flights to choose from, Dr Pezzutti, of Richmond Hill, said.
The Lismore Base Hospital anaesthetist said the Ballina set-up was ‘bloody stupid’.
“It’s outrageous and a real rip-off, and all because they haven’t programmed their software correctly.”
To add insult to injury, the pre-paid system penalised people if their flights were delayed, Dr Pezzutti said.
He had a return flight from Sydney cancelled and was booked for overstaying. He has refused to pay the fine.
When he rang to complain, Dr Pezzutti was told if he had called the airport when his flight was cancelled ‘we wouldn’t have booked you’, he said.
“But who travels with phone numbers like that?” he asked.
Dr Pezzutti said he had complained about the inequity of the system, ‘but they are still letting this rip-off happen’.
“The parking charges are a disincentive for local business people to use the airport,” Dr Pezzutti said.
“That’s why you see the car park empty most of the time.”
Now he gives his custom to Rex Airlines, and flies out of Lismore Airport, where the overnight parking fee is $4 and customers are not penalised if their flights are delayed or cancelled.
Mr Weatherson said Ballina Shire Council, which manages the system, including its software, was looking at other options available.
This included overnight travellers paying $12, plus $5 for part of the next day.
“That would seem fairer,” Mr Weatherson said.
Also unhappy about the airport’s charges are residents of neighbouring Byron Shire, who say while the name Ballina Byron Gateway Airport trades off Byron’s reputation, they are not entitled to the free two-hour period given to Ballina residents.
“If I pick up someone and spend 20 minutes in the parking lot, I have to pay $2,” one said.
“It’s not a lot, but it’s the principle of the thing – they took on the Byron name, but we don’t get any benefits.”