David Millward, The Daily Telegraph, June 10, 2013
The days of being able to drop a passenger off at the terminal are coming to an end as airports raise millions by forcing drivers to use short stay car parks.
“Flying from the UK just seems like licence to rack up a string of add-on charges,” said an AA spokesman.
“Regular travellers who know the charges may try to drop off as close as they can, and struggle along the road with their baggage like refugees.”
The steepest charges are in London City Airport, which demands £5.50 for only half an hour – more than twice the price of leaving a car in the heart of Mayfair.
Stansted Airport has a £2 “express set down” charge for 10 minutes, while 15 minutes in the car park costs £3.
Leeds Bradford imposes a £2 charge for half an hour's parking and Bournemouth as a £2.50 fee for 30 minutes.
In all 15 out of 31 airports now impose some sort of charge for even the shortest stay, according to the CAA figures.
“If airports are worried about space it seems perverse to make drivers spend time fumbling around for change when all they are trying to do is drop and go,” said Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation.
“Airport operators seem to have a culture of money first, passengers second. But if they made travellers’ lives easier rather than harder then surely they would do better business? Instead they seem intent on giving the kiss of death to any chance of a harmonious relationship.”
Airlines already incensed by the landing charges they faced condemned the levy on passengers.
“It is an appalling idea”, said Simon Buck, chief executive of the British Air Transport Association.
“I think it is the wrong way to encourage people to use public transport. It is merely lining the pockets of airports at the expense of hard-pressed passengers."
Minicab firms have also been annoyed by the charges. “The airports are doing this for only one thing,” said Bryan Roland, General Secretary of the National Private Hire Association, which has more than 25,000 members.
“It’s about money, money and more money. People are being ripped off.”
Nick Trend, the Telegraph’s consumer travel editor, accused airports of exploiting a captive market.
“Now it is becoming harder and harder to find somewhere which doesn't fleece you simply for a quick pick-up or drop-off near the terminal."
Darren Caplan, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, defended the charges. “For many airports around half of their revenue is taken from non-aeronautical fees, which enable them to operate and improve their services for the benefit of passengers.
"Some airports do levy different charges but the biggest single charge for passengers is Air Passenger Duty. Passengers have a choice about which airport to travel from but they don’t have a choice about avoiding the UK’s eye-wateringly high levels of APD."