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Heathrow Airport announces plans for a £5 drop-off fee

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Heathrow has announced that it is “expecting” to charge £5 from late 2021 to those wishing to drop off or pick up passengers by car.

Only two months ago, Gatwick announced it would levy such a fee. At a proposed £5 per drop-off or pick-up, Heathrow is matching the charge that Gatwick will levy from 2021.

Heathrow Terminal 5 drop off

8 out of the 10 largest UK airports already charge or intend to charge a similar fee, although at £5 Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted would have the joint-highest.

Whilst the Heathrow press release says the airport is only “exploring” the proposal, it is virtually guaranteed to happen and is only softening the blow by announcing it now.

Heathrow says it is exploring the option in order to prevent a “car led recovery” from Covid-19, which is presumably why it has just ditched the Heathrow Free Travel Zone…. In reality, the airport has seen an 80% drop in traffic and is scrambling to raise funds to cover the £1.5bn loss incurred this year.

The Forecourt Access Charge (FAC) is due to replace the Heathrow Ultra Low Emissions Zone first touted in 2019. This is, effectively, replacing a scheme with genuine environmental benefits with a simple money grab.

According to Heathrow, the charge will apply to all vehicles entering the forecourts at Heathrow’s terminals. Exceptions will apply for blue badge holders and emergency vehicles, with a full list of exemptions yet to be finalised.

To avoid paying the fee, you can be dropped off in one the long stay car parks and travel to the terminal via a free shuttle bus.

PS. As we didn’t cover it on HfP at the time, you may not know that Heathrow is asking the Civil Aviation Authority for permission to recoup its £1.7 billion of covid losses from you. The airport wants to increase passenger charges (which are currently £40 on a long haul economy flight and are built into ticket prices) to recoup the money. The CAA has thrown out Heathrow’s initial request, to give them credit, but has left the door open for the airport to ask again.

Comments (74)

  • Roger* says:

    Why all the references to BAA? For those with shorter memories, BAA was the former British Airports Authority which was privatised by the Thatcher government. It no longer exists other than as Heathrow Airport Holdings, which I suspect is no longer
    actively trading and has no executive authority (though I haven’t checked this).

    As for Swiss buses, perhaps the word ‘some’ should be included. I’m an enthusiast for many aspects of Swiss public transport and enjoy the rail system, electric trolley buses and electric trams.

    Zurich trams have recently been extended to Zurich Airport, which is also served by local, national and international trains and buses. And planes. What are they doing right?

  • Frenske says:

    Travelling via the Eurotunnel becomes more and more attractive.

  • CWK says:

    Terminal 2 – Hilton Garden Inn
    Terminal 4 – Hilton
    Terminal 5 – Sofitel

    I would just drop off at those hotels (or ask your taxi/minicab to, if you’re using one) and walk to the terminal.

  • Fenny says:

    It doesn’t really matter which airport I fly from, the only logical option that doesn’t take me a stupid amount of time, or is impossible at weekends, to get to and from an airport is to drive. It costs me in the region of £70 for a week’s parking, depending on when I book. I don’t have anyone to drop me off, pick me up or drive the 180 mile round trip at each end of my journey, so the cost of parking is just part of the cost of a holiday.

    Why are airports in this country so bl**dy inaccessible by public transport for huge swathes of the population? I’ve never had the same issues (or cost) when abroad, even at weekends.