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Melbourne Airport Slaps Higher Charges On 'Already Struggling' Taxi Industry

Melbourne Airport has upped the price it charges taxis to use its rank, in what a peak body claims is a "disappointing" blow for an already struggling industry.

From September 1, the taxi access rank fee at Melbourne Airport will rise from $3.65 to $4.50, and from $3.00 to $4.00 for pre-booked taxis.

This compares to a current fee of $4.75 at Sydney Airport and about $3.00 at Brisbane Airport.

The access fee is solely determined by airports and reviewed annually against the Australian Consumer Price Index (CPI) -- a general measure of changes in prices of consumer goods and services.

In Victoria, the state's independent regulator, The Essential Services Commission (ESC), has ruled any increase can be passed on to passengers.

A spokesperson for Melbourne Airport told 10 daily the fees primarily contribute to recovering taxi-related operating costs including staffing the ranks and maintaining the taxi holding areas, along with other infrastructure exclusively used by taxis.

He said rideshare access charges will also increase in line with a CPI adjustment from $4.48 to $4.54.

Andre Baruch, President of the Commercial Passenger Vehicle Association, said he was "disappointed" by the decision.

"The airport makes the majority of its revenue from carpark and access controls," he told 10 daily.

"I understand cost increases, but to have a jump between 23 and 25 percent -- depending on the type of taxi -- it appears they are pushing an increase to up their own profits."

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In a submission to a 2016 review of Victorian taxi fares, Melbourne Airport  indicated it "will be increasing the airport access fee to $3.58 inclusive of GST; held for two years and then indexed annually according to the CPI".

Responding to the recent raise, an ESC spokesperson told 10 daily it does not have the power to regular the airport's prices but that "in 2016, the airport did indicate to us future rises would likely be in line with inflation".

PHOTO: Getty Images

Baruch agreed the raise was not a CPI adjustment but a "price gauge" for an already struggling industry that will fall back on consumers.

"It will put the cost of fares for the average punter up by about one dollar," he said.

"I don't think people are that price sensitive if they're already choosing taxis, but I think it's an unfortunate thing to do.

"This doesn't help anybody."

Contact the author: ebrancatisano@networkten.com.au