Heathrow set to introduce forecourt charge

Cost may be implemented for vehicles entering terminal departure forecourts to deter a car-led Covid-19 recovery

Heathrow is currently exploring the possibility of introducing a forecourt access charge (FAC) in late 2021, preventing a car-led airport recovery from the pandemic.

During 2020, passengers numbers have collapsed, and the airport faces £1.5bn in losses. The introduction of the charge – expected to be around £5 – is just one of several revisions to the airport’s surface access plan.

The announcement of the potential new charge comes shortly after Gatwick revealed its initiative to introduce a forecourt fee to aid the airport’s recovery back in October. Due to the long-lasting effects of Covid-19, Heathrow has reviewed all planned investments that were in motion when over 80 million passengers were using the airport annually. The review has led to significant changes to help recalibrate the airport’s spending on surface projects so that environmental impacts can continue to reduce.

“The impacts of the pandemic have been severe, especially on the aviation industry with Heathrow passenger numbers down over 80% and the business losing £5m a day,” said Tony Caccavone, Heathrow Director of Surface Access. “These changes will help us to protect the business financially and save jobs in the short term, whilst also allowing us to stay on track for our long-term goals of providing safe, sustainable and affordable transport options into the future.”

Heathrow expects there to be fewer cars on the road because of the fall in passenger demand, creating concerns regarding the use of public transport in the near future. In response to the worry, the FAC will replace plans for a Heathrow ultra-low emissions zone (HULEZ), which was announced back in 2019.

Changes to plans across the London-based airport ensure that long-term public transport goals are met, and other measures can be implemented if necessary.

Revenue collected from FAC will contribute to future sustainable transport investments, as well as lowering charges for passengers. Details for the new plans are expected to be finalised in 2021, as consultation with stakeholders has already begun. Blue badge holders and emergency vehicles will be exempt from the charge.

There is currently an alternative option in place where passengers can be dropped off in the long stay car parks and then travel to the terminals via the free shuttle bus.