Aberdeen Airport has bucked a growing trend in ‘pay-as-you-stay’ car parks, by declaring that it will not charge a £1 levy on drivers wanting to the use the hub’s drop-off zones. The Scottish site, which is owned by the British Airports Authority (BAA), would have been the third airport in two months to impose the fee on the travelling public.
Newcastle and Edinburgh airports faced heavy criticism when the parking scheme was introduced, with Scottish MP, Gavin Brown, calling the £1 charge, ‘opportunistic’ and ‘particularly mean.’ Drivers in Newcastle claimed to have been ‘ambushed’ with the fee at the airport gate, after advisory signs went unnoticed.
Edinburgh’s new parking policy led some observers to accuse the BAA of profiteering, an allegation that was quickly denied by airport boss, Gordon Dewar – ‘the £1 fee is not mean, as it has been described. It is a modest charge that will allow us to invest in our airport. The alternative is a higher cost to airlines.’
The BAA’s decision not to operate the same policy at Aberdeen suggests that the aviation giant is trying to save face, rather than scrapping it of its own volition. The £1 charge was regarded in the press as a means of preying on people who would otherwise spend nothing at the airport, such as the relatives of travellers.
A spokesperson for Aberdeen Airport has claimed that the BAA had nothing to do with the controversial levy, however, and that all decisions on parking policies were made by the in-house management team. If Glasgow Airport, another BAA hub, hadn’t been considering drop-off fees of its own, Aberdeen’s spirited defence of its owner might have been more convincing.
Strangely, apart from the BAA, the scheme’s biggest supporter in the aviation industry is budget airline, Ryanair. The carrier’s bitter rival, EasyJet, recently criticised the £1 levy, which is likely the reason why Ryanair has defied both passengers and airlines in declaring its allegiance to Edinburgh’s new parking policy.