Federal police are seeking public help to uncover who is behind 15 unauthorised radio transmissions with aircraft and air traffic controllers at Melbourne and Avalon airports.
The Australian Federal Police says it is investigating the rogue radio broadcasts that have occurred at the two airports in recent weeks.
In a joint-statement with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and Airservices, AFP head of crime operations acting assistant commissioner Chris Sheehan said the incidents were being treated “extremely seriously”.
“The AFP, Airservices, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and the aviation industry are all committed to ensuring the safety of the travelling public,” Sheehan said in a statement.
“These incidents are being thoroughly investigated by the AFP, with technical support from the ACMA.
“The airlines have been briefed to ensure the advice has been passed on to their pilots and to ensure appropriate measures are in place.”
Sheehan said there were appropriate procedures, processes and systems in place to ensure the safety of aviation operations at airports in Victoria and across the country, as well as air travellers.
Airservices said in the statement that “at no time was safety jeopardised as a result of these calls”, adding that it was working closely with the AFP and the airlines on the matter.
The statement said the person responsible for the unauthorised transmissions faced up to 20 years’ jail.
Anyone with information about this matter is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000. Information can be provided anonymously.
In the audio of one incident obtained by the ABC, someone pretending to be a pilot can be heard telling air traffic control his aircraft has suffered an engine failure.
Another incident involved a flight from Gold Coast to Melbourne where pilots of the aircraft aborted their landing after receiving instructions from someone pretending to be air traffic control.
An aerial shot of Tullamarine. (Melbourne Airport)
Melbourne Airport says international passenger traffic grew 6.6 per cent in August as airlines added new flights linking Tullamarine with destinations in Asia and New Zealand.
The airport handled 777,690 international passengers in August, up from 729,795 in the prior corresponding period. There was also growth in international travellers at Brisbane, Perth and Sydney.
Over the past 12 months, Melbourne has welcomed the Scoot’s flight to Singapore (November 2015), Xiamen Airlines’ service to Xiamen (July 2015) and China Airlines’ Taipei-Melbourne-Christchurch offering.
Melbourne Airport chief executive Lyell Strambi said all three services contributed to the improvement in traffic figures during August.
“It’s important to recognise the significance of new airlines opening up Melbourne routes – both in terms of bringing international visitors to our wonderful state and city, and providing more travelling options for Victorians in return,” Strambi said in a statement.
Meanwhile, domestic traffic at Melbourne Tullamarine rose a more moderate one per cent to 2.02 million.
The airport said the 2.8 million total passengers for the month was the highest ever figure for August at Tullamarine.
Sydney Airport also posted healthy passenger growth in August, with the number of international travellers up 7.6 per cent in the month to 1.2 million, while domestic travellers were 2.9 per cent higher at 2.2 million.
There was more moderate growth at Brisbane Airport, where international passengers was up 2.9 per cent in August at 457,187, while its domestic terminals handled 1.5 million travellers, an increase of 2.3 per cent from the prior corresponding period.
And at Perth Airport, the growth in international passengers helped offset a drop in domestic travellers in August, as the slowdown in mining activity impacted demand for intra-state travel.
There was a 2.2 per cent rise in international passengers to 340,618, while domestic passengers fell 1.1 per cent to 772,175.
Melbourne Airport has been running a comprehensive trial of SITA’s self-service boarding technology.
A self-boarding gate has been in operation at Melbourne’s international terminal (T2) for the past three months where passengers have scanned their own boarding passes to gain access to the aircraft.
“As Melbourne Airport focuses on optimising the efficient use of assets, technology and innovation play an increasing role in providing better customer service,” Melbourne Airport’s Michael Jarvis said in a statement on Tuesday.
SITA and Melbourne Airport worked together during the trial to identify improvements to be implemented into future updates of the self-boarding system.
Results of the trial are currently being analysed, with the airport assessing the system’s speed of processing, passenger perception and accuracy.
The self-boarding technology is based on SITA’s common-use platform, which has already seen self-service check-in kiosks and automated bag drop facilities installed at Melbourne Airport.
“Working closely with expert vendors and service providers, like SITA, facilitates the testing of world-class solutions at Melbourne Airport and allows our passengers to be among the first to experience leading-edge technology that will improve their experience,” Jarvis said.
Australia’s two largest airports posted strong passenger growth in March as more international travellers pour into the country.
At Melbourne Tullamarine, international passengers were up 7.3 per cent in March at 763,848, compared with the prior corresponding period.
The March figures represented seven straight years of international passenger growth at Melbourne.
Melbourne Airport chief executive Lyell Strambi said the seven years of month-on-month growth represented a remarkable achievement.
“This continued and consistent growth shows great faith and confidence from our airline partners who continue to increase their services to Melbourne.,” Strambi said in a statement.
“Our third quarter results are also particularly pleasing, with growth achieved in all key international markets compared to the same period last year.”
The largest increases in international travellers to Melbourne were from Hong Kong (39.3 per cent), Singapore (37.1 per cent) and Japan (27 per cent). The start of Etihad’s second daily flightfrom Tullamarine to Abu Dhabi that kicked off in August 2015 has also boosted the number of European visitors to the Victorian capital, Melbourne Airport said.
Meanwhile, Sydney Airport handled 1.211 million international passengers in March, up 7.9 per cent from the prior corresponding period.
Sydney Airport chief executive Kerrie Mather noted the recent arrival of new airlines such as Japan’s ANA, Qatar Airways and China’s Xiamen, while existing operators have added additional services or upgauged current routes.
“This exceptional growth continues to be driven by seat capacity from new and existing airline customers,” Mather said in a statement.
“Growth in Japanese nationals was the largest international inbound contributor to passenger growth.”
There was also healthy growth for domestic travellers, with Sydney reporting a rise of 4.4 per cent and Melbourne Tullamarine posting a 3.3 per cent improvement.
By contrast, Perth Airport handled 1.1 per cent fewer domestic passengers in March, amid a slowdown in mining activity in Western Australia.
Australia’s consumer watchdog the ACCC is rebuking the country’s major airports – particular those in Sydney and Melbourne – over the prices charged for airport parking, resulting in exorbitant profit margins at the expense of value for travellers.
In its latest Airport Monitoring Report 2014-15, the ACCC identifies Melbourne Airport as the worst offender with owner Australia Pacific Airports (Melbourne) Pty Ltd booking 73.2 cents in the dollar from parking revenue as pure profit.
That represents a mark-up of over 270% on the actual costs of building, running and maintaining the parking facilities, with Sydney Airport not far behind in converting 71.6 cents from every parking dollar earned into profit.
Brisbane and Perth Airports also enjoyed generous margins on airport parking of 67.2% and 63.7% respectively, which the ACCC attributed to a “lack of competitive pressure” from other providers.
While booking a car space online can sometimes avoid paying the full sticker price, the ACCC also found that the best savings were typically had when parking for longer durations, rather than shorter stays which weren’t as discounted.
“The ACCC found that consumers parking at the airports could save up to 66.5 per cent for longer durations by booking online,” said ACCC Chairman Rod Sims.
“Consumers should consider all of their options, including whether they could obtain a cheaper rate by booking online or using an off-airport parking operator,” Sims added.
Australian Business Traveller
Australia’s two busiest airports have posted healthy gains in international passengers led by a strong rise in the number of Chinese visitors.
Melbourne Airport said the number of overseas travellers through Tullamarine in October rose 10.2 per cent to 764,998, compared with the prior corresponding period.
Meanwhile, Sydney Airport said international passengers passing through its terminals was up 5.1 per cent at 1.176 million in October.
Chinese visitors to Melbourne were up 35.4 per cent in October, while the rose 23.6 per cent at Sydney Airport.
“Chinese growth was significantly higher than our four year average growth rate of 16.4% due to strong Golden Week demand which runs annually in the first week in October,” Sydney Airport chief executive Kerrie Mather said in a statement on Friday.
Load factors on international flights at Sydney Airport rose 2.6 percentage points in October, while capacity was up 1.5 per cent.
It was a more subdued picture in the domestic market, with Sydney Airport reporting an 0.1 per cent drop in local travellers in October, compared with the prior corresponding period, while Melbourne Airport experienced a slender 0.8 per cent increase.