Gatwick to introduce a fee for vehicles dropping off passengers
It won’t prove to be a popular move with passengers, but Gatwick Airport today revealed that it will start charging for vehicle drop offs outside its terminals, using the money to help it offset some of its COVID-19 losses.
Surprisingly it won’t be the only UK airport to do this when the £5 fee is introduced next year as others such as Manchester, Luton, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Birmingham and Stansted already charge vehicles for dropping off passengers directly outside their terminals.
Gatwick says that anyone who does not wish to pay the charge will be able to drop-off or pick-up passengers in the airport’s long-stay car parks, with two hours free parking and a free shuttle bus to the terminals.
Currently, cars are permitted to drop off passengers directly in front of both terminals. People picking up passengers are required to use the short stay car park, although this does not always happen, and some people use the forecourt to pick up.
It also hopes that the move will further encourage people to use public transport and potentially cut road traffic congestion and emissions at Gatwick and surrounding local areas.
There will be some exemptions though as Gatwick admits that it is looking at solutions to allow those who regularly drop off and pick up at the South Terminal each day to access to the train station to make a token annual payment contribution.
And suitable solutions for Blue Badge holder’s convenience are also being looked at.
Gatwick’s chief commercial officer, Jonathan Pollard, said: “Gatwick has just gone through the most challenging period in its history and this new drop off charging scheme will give us a new revenue stream to aid recovery from the COVID-19 crisis and ultimately help us continue as an important provider of economic prosperity and jobs across the region.
“Gatwick is also committed to promoting sustainable travel and this new scheme will encourage passengers to consider more sustainable transport options, including public transport services or parking options at the airport, which only involves two single car trips, compared to two return trips when dropping off.
“The airport already has strong public transport links and we will build on this with a proportion of the revenue raised supporting new sustainable transport initiatives. We will also continue to fund our share of the ongoing project to build a new £150 million airport train station.”
According to Gatwick, reducing its environmental impact continues to be an important focus and the airport plans to put a proportion of the revenue into Gatwick’s existing Sustainable Transport Fund.
No date has been set to introduce the new charging system but the first step includes a consultation on the implementation of a Red Route system across the airport campus to indicate that stopping to park, load or unload, board or alight from a vehicle is prohibited.
Revenue raised through Red Route fines will also be used to fund sustainable transport initiatives under the guidance of the airport’s Transport Steering Group, which includes external local representatives.
The airport benefits from strong public transport links, with recent improvements enabling a train leaving for London every three to four minutes – as regular as tube services – and a £4 million upgrade to an airport bus interchange benefitting the 3 million people who use it each year.
Around 650 local services arrive/depart the bus interchange each week, many of them 24-hour services.
Gatwick also remains committed to its investment in the ongoing £150 million project to upgrade the airport’s train station, which will make connections to other destinations easier by doubling the size of the station concourse, adding five new lifts and eight escalators to improve passenger flow, and widening two platforms to reduce overcrowding.