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.
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.