Drivers taking relatives and friends to the airport should “brace themselves” for record drop-off charges this summer, the breakdown firm RAC has warned.
The RAC’s investigation, which analysed charges across the UK’s busiest airports, reveals seven in 21 airports have hiked fees in the last year, with London Stansted topping the table at £7.
Airports have hiked the prices of so-called ‘kiss and fly’ fees, which have become an increasingly important source of revenue, by nearly two thirds since the pandemic as they scramble to recoup losses.
RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “Having tracked airport drop-off fees since 2016, we can see putting up charges has now become something of an annual ritual.
“This year is no different with seven out of 21 increasing their fees and one introducing them for the first time. Drivers should brace themselves for jaw-dropping prices when they drop their loved-ones off at the terminal.”
Jo Rhodes, deputy editor of Which? Travel, said that travellers will be “painfully aware of the spiralling costs” with these latest figures coming as “a stark reminder that holiday budgets are being stretched at every turn, with higher hotel and flight prices already making a getaway unaffordable for many.”
What about London?
London Stansted continues to top the table for the entire country, with its ‘kiss and fly’ charge sitting at £7 for 15 minutes.
A spokesperson for the airport said: “Revenues from parking and forecourt charging are invested into sustainable access improvements that help maintain London Stansted’s high percentage of passengers using public transport.”
Heathrow, Gatwick and London Luton all charge £5, with the latter two placing a 10 and 15 minute time limit for customers respectively.
These London hubs’ fees rank near the higher end of the table, with only Leeds Bradford and Liverpool John Lennon charging more for 10 minute stopovers.
Londoners can be thankful that many of the capital’s hubs have temporarily frozen further hikes since last year, however the RAC said this will “be of little consolation as charges across the board have never been so high”.
Similarly, City Airport continues to be a bright light as one of the only three hubs offering a free of charge drop-off service.
Responding to the RAC investigation, a spokesperson for the Airport Operator’s Association (AOA), which represents the sector, said: “Airports that operate drop-off charges directly outside the terminal do so for a number of different reasons, including to manage congestion in capacity-restricted areas and to limit the environmental and air quality impacts of journeys to the airport.”
“It is also done to raise revenue to support the economic model of the airport. All charges for services at an airport help keep charges to airlines lower and thus maximising the range of flights that can be offered to all passengers.”
A spokesman for AGS Airports, which owns and operates Southampton Airport, which charges a drop-off fee of £6, said that “funds generated through our parking services play an important role in supporting the airport’s operational costs, which have increased significantly”.