Revenue from the initiative will be used to provide further protection for jobs at the airport
Gatwick Airport is continuing with its plan to introduce a £5 fee for vehicles access to the forecourt of the North terminal, following the announcement of the charge last October.
The new cost will come into effect on March 8, with the fee extending to the South Terminal once it restarts operations.
By placing a tariff on parking, the airport hopes there will be a reduction in traffic congestion and emissions in the surrounding area. It is also intended to deter a car-led recovery once regular travel is able to resume after the national lockdown.
It plans to help create a new revenue stream for the airport that will help provide vital protection for jobs.
Jonathan Pollard, chief commercial officer at Gatwick, reiterated that the airport is “going through the most difficult period in its history” and defends the new initiative that plans on creating new revenue streams in order to provide “economic prosperity”.
“This new scheme will also encourage passengers to consider more sustainable transport options, including taking advantage of our excellent public transport services. We plan to use this charge to build on these services by using a proportion of the revenue raised to support new sustainable transport initiatives, in addition to our ongoing project to build a new £150 million airport train station which is progressing well.”
A reduction in ‘kiss and fly’ travel – a less sustainable journey to the airport that involves two return car trips – could be achieved by encouraging the usage of other forms of transport to the airport. In 2019, it was reported that 15% of airport journeys fell into this category.
Gatwick says it is still committed to reducing its environmental impact and plans on making a contribution to its sustainable transport fund out of the revenue made from the new initiative.
Customers who do not wish to pay the charge will have to drop off passengers at the long-stay car parks, which has a direct shuttle bus to the airport. Travellers are also able to arrive via public transport, which has undergone significant improvements over the last few years.
When the charge expands to the South Terminal, commuters living close to the airport with no access to public transport will be permitted two visits a day to use the train station by paying an annual fee of £50.
The charging system will be operated by barrier free technology and by automated number plate recognition cameras.
As well as the parking charge, a red route system is being introduced across the airport to indicate areas where stopping to park, load or unload is prohibited. Revenue raised from those fines will also be transferred to sustainable transport schemes under the guidance of the airport’s Transport Steering Group.
The airport boasts strong transport links, with regular tube services that leave every three to four minutes and a £4m upgrade to the bus interchange. Before the pandemic, around 650 local services passed through the bus interchange every week, many of them running 24 hours a day.
Other projects include its £150m venture to upgrade the airport’s train station. The revamp will see the station concourse double in size, with five new lifts and eight escalators to improve passenger traffic. Two platforms will also be widened to reduce overcrowding.