How long before Gatwick charges you to drop passengers off at the terminal?

If you’ve travelled through Gatwick Airport in recent months you’ll have seen some of the results of the airport’s £1.2billion investment programme: the new security search area in the South Terminal, forecourt improvements, a new shuttle station, lifts and escalators – the list goes on.

Since purchasing Gatwick Airport in December 2009, GIP has spent the best part of £1.2 trying to transform the airport in to the ‘London airport of choice’. The current spending plan is due for completion in 2014, while there’s another £1.5billion investment scheduled for the 2014-2020 period.

Yes, Gatwick is a vast improvement on its BAA days, but… it’s now time the airport started clawing back some of that investment.

The airport’s ‘user pays’ principle intends to recover some of its huge investment costs and Gatwick has now applied it to the airport’s infrastructure with the introduction of it’s Approved Operator Scheme for meet and greet parking companies.

Introduced on 10 July 2013, the Approved Operator Scheme was sold as a way to reduce forecourt congestion and ensure customers of meet and greet parking companies received a good level of service.

Up until 10 July, any company operating meet and greet parking at Gatwick was able to use the airport’s forecourts to collect and return customers’ vehicles free of charge. On 10 July, the airport introduced its Approved Operator Scheme which only permits Approved Operators to conduct meet and greets on the airport terminal, however, they have to pay for the privilege – £3 per transaction, adding £6 to the cost of each meet and greet parking booking. And there are time restrictions too – each transaction should take no more than 5 minutes! Originally, the airport had proposed a charge of £4 per transaction, however, this was reduced to £3 following feedback on the proposals.

To reduce costs, Approved meet and greet parking operators can use the multi-storey car parks with the following fees applied:

  • £1.30 per transaction (0-10 minutes)
  • £2.00 per transaction (10-20 minutes)
  • If the transaction takes more than 20 minutes, the regular tariff applies: currently, £3 for up to 30 minutes, £6 for up to an hour.

Companies, which are not approved operators, are not permitted to carry out meet and greets on the forecourt but must use the multi-storey car parks.

While it was intended that non-approved companies would have to pay the regular tariff, i.e. £3 per transaction (up to 30 minutes) the airport has decided to give these companies a 9-month period to meet the scheme’s criteria and therefore be subject to the reduced rate during this period.

Currently, only Approved meet and greet parking companies need to pay for forecourt usage, but is this just the start? Will Gatwick extend this to passenger drop-offs, including taxis? After all, Gatwick already has an approved taxi company, which pays a high proportion of its taxi fares to the airport.

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