February 24, 2020


The four main airports made $2.3 billion in profit last year as thousands of airport workers struggled with underemployment and low wages.

The ACCC annual report released today shows Sydney made operating profits of $958.9 million, Melbourne $576.1 million, Brisbane $497.1 million and Perth $237.4 million. The report states: “The airports have collectively generated aeronautical profit in every year over the 17-year lifespan of the airport monitoring regime, and have increased their profit in almost all of those years.”

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said airports were making huge profits off the backs of struggling airport workers. “It is an utter disgrace that while airport workers are struggling on forced part-time hours, low wages and dreadful conditions, the airports at the top are turning this much profit. Airports have become the poster-boy for inequality in our society: a shiny profit-making machine on the outside while workers inside are desperate for more hours and limping along on low incomes,” Kaine said.

“Airports made $2.3 billion profit while workers at Jetstar are forced onto 20 hours a week. Thousands of workers at ground handling company Swissport are paid below the award, according to the Fair Work Commission. Airports and airlines must start taking responsibility for these conditions and the Federal Government must accept its role in ensuring that they do this,” Kaine added.

Airport workers have submitted claims to all major airports demanding: the same rate for doing the same job; secure work with regular hours; safety and security as the number one priority, rather than a focus on engaging work to be carried out for the lowest cost possible.

Last week Jetstar workers went on strike because the company broke off negotiations on demands for more hours. Jetstar workers are the lowest paid in the Qantas Group, some paid as little as $480 a week. A report today shows low paid Jetstar workers are still being impacted by a Qantas wage freeze and will suffer wage and superannuation losses of up to $200,000 during their lifetimes. Jetstar is forcing a vote on its substandard agreement today. Qantas announced last week it had made half year profits of $771 million.

The airport claim is part of a plan to ensure accountability among powerful, wealthy companies at the top of the transport supply chain, including airports, and make sure they pay their fair share. It will involve widespread industrial action this year as 200 enterprise agreements covering 38,000 transport workers expire.

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