Council rejects airport’s rates plea


By Laura Michell

Melbourne Airport’s request for a $6 million rates waiver has been knocked back by Hume council.

Australia Pacific Airports (Melbourne), which owns Melbourne Airport, made a submission to the council’s 2020-21 budget, urging councillors to consider reducing its rates bill for the next 12 months.

APAM’s corporate and public affairs executive, Jai McDermott, told councillors the airport had been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr McDermott said Melbourne Airport’s total revenue was down 85 per cent in May, compared to May 2019.

He said passenger numbers had dropped dramatically, with just 73,000 passengers passing through the airport in May, compared to the long-term average of three million passengers.

Mr McDermott said that despite the drop in revenue, the airport had offered about $78 million in relief measures to its business partners to help them weather the pandemic.

However, it needed a reduction in its rates to enable it to continue providing assistance, he said.

“Melbourne Airport has made a long and ongoing contribution to Hume City Council, in the order of $100 million over the last 10 years,” Mr McDermott said.

“Right now, we need some support so we can continue our efforts on supporting our people and businesses in restarting the aviation industry.

“We ask that the council consider the significant contribution made in previous years.”

A report to the July 27 council meeting said that while the council welcomed the opportunity to meet with the airport to work towards a new long-term agreement, it did not have the capacity to provide a rate reduction.

“APAM’s request for rate relief is more than 50 per cent of council’s entire [$11.5 million] stimulus and support package which is for the benefit of over 92,000 ratepayers,” the report said.

Cr Joseph Haweil said he was shocked by APAM’s request.

“Council has not approved the waiver of rates for any ratepayer,” he said.