Carnival secures preferential berthing rights at new Brisbane terminal

Carnival secures preferential berthing rights at new Brisbane terminal
A rendering of the new cruise terminal (Image: Port of Brisbane)

Carnival Corporation has secured preferential berthing rights at the Port of Brisbane’s new AUS$158 million international cruise terminal after the companies’ agreement was approved by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

According to the agreement, Carnival will pay a fixed annual amount to the Port of Brisbane for 15 years in return for preferential berthing rights at the new terminal. This gives the cruise corporation first choice of 100 days at the terminal each year, up to a maximum of four days a week. However, the ACCC has imposed two conditions to reduce the agreement’s anti-competitive effect and to promote competition and choice for cruise customers.

The first condition stipulates that although Carnival will get its choice of four days each week, it cannot book more than two of the three most profitable ‘weekend’ days (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) in any given week.

“This means one of these premium weekend days will be available to competitors so other cruise operators can compete with Carnival in Brisbane,” said Roger Featherston, ACCC commissioner. “If no other operator books the third weekend day, Carnival will be allowed to use it.”

The second condition states that if the port builds another cruise berth at the terminal, Carnival cannot be given first right of refusal when it comes to choosing berthing days. Although Carnival is currently the only cruise operator regularly running cruises out of Brisbane, this is expected to change over the next 15-18 years and this second condition will help to improve competition between cruise lines.

“Brisbane has no dedicated mega cruise ship terminal, and the construction of this terminal is expected to increase tourism and deliver a real benefit to the community and the Queensland economy,” said Featherston. “While we understand the important benefits a dedicated cruise ship terminal would bring to Brisbane, we have concerns that parts of the agreement between the Port of Brisbane and Carnival would limit consumer choice and entrench Carnival as the dominant cruise operator in Brisbane for 15 years. That’s why we have approved this agreement with two conditions.”

To be located at Luggage Point on the north side of Brisbane River, the new two-level terminal building will be around 9,300 square metres and will be connected to a 200-metre-long wharf with a 450-metre berth. Two air bridges will enable passengers to embark and disembark their ships safely. There will also be open spaces for the public and parking for cars and buses.

Site preparation works began in November 2017 and construction of the wharf and the terminal is scheduled to start in mid-2018 and November 2018 respectively. Predictions suggest that the terminal could inject up to AUS$1.3 billion in net expenditure into the Brisbane economy over the next two decades. It is also expected that the terminal will support an average of 245 jobs annually over the two-year construction period and deliver many others through increased economic activity.

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Rebecca Gibson
By Rebecca Gibson
Monday, May 14, 2018