East Midlands Airport is to charge a £1 fee for drivers wanting to drop off friends and relatives at the Castle Donnington hub. The fee is part of a wider redevelopment of the airport’s facilities, which has seen the existing car park divided into five ‘zones’ – disabled parking, short- and long-stay areas, car hire, and ‘rapid drop-off.’
The £1 levy has now been introduced at four UK airports; namely, Newcastle, Belfast, Edinburgh, and East Midlands.
Whilst the free drop-off zone has been superceded by the new ‘pay as you stay’ area, airport chief, Penny Coates, notes that the long-stay car park is free for stays of up to an hour. The long-stay car park is located some distance away from the terminal, and users will have to catch a shuttle bus to the airport doors.
Penny claims that the new parking system will ‘enhance the overall experience of flying from East Midlands, and meet the requirements of modern lifestyles.’ Exactly what that means is up for debate, however. The airport hopes that the renovated parking areas will help ease congestion on the M1 and the A453, which leads up to the hub.
Users of the new rapid drop-off zone will be charged £1 for a stay of ten minutes. The same policy was introduced at Belfast Airport last week to enormous criticism. Irish drivers called the scheme ‘confusing,’ noting ‘chaotic scenes.’ Motorists who overstay their welcome can also be clamped, with a £80 release fee.
Bosses at the affected airports have cited ‘customer concerns’ – needing extra time to drop off, for example – and a desire to reduce airport traffic as the impetus for the changes. Irish and Scottish MPs are lobbying to have the £1 levy removed, however, which may encourage the British Airports Authority and Peel Airports, among others, to rethink any plans they had for premium parking services.