Despite overwhelming opposition from local travellers and Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs), Edinburgh Airport has implemented a controversial ‘kiss and fly’ levy, forcing drivers to pay £1 for the use of airport drop-off zones. The announcement was made in July this year, but the need to build a suitable parking area pushed the scheme’s introduction back until the end of October.
Edinburgh joins East Midlands, London Luton, and Newcastle airports, and in Ireland, Belfast International, as pioneers of ‘pay as you stay’ drop-off zones.
Taxi drivers have been vocal in their criticism of the plan. Murray Flemming, a member of the Scottish Taxi Federation, referred to the move as a “wage cut” for drivers, as many will have to make multiple trips to the airport on any given day. Murray noted that councils had not yet decided whether local taxi ranks should increase their tariffs to compensate for the drop-off fee, which means that the parking charge is currently coming out of drivers’ pockets.
A solitary pound might not seem like a lot of money for the privilege of using a car park close to the terminal, but overstaying the initial ten-minute limit will add a further £5 on top of the original levy.
Edinburgh bosses note that a free parking area still exists in the long-stay parking zone. However, holidaymakers wishing to skip the £1 charge by using it will need to take one of two new buses to the airport.
It is interesting to note that 68 MSPs (roughly half of the Scottish Parliament, and 100% of those who contacted Edinburgh Airport) did not want to see the parking scheme implemented, yet the hub pressed ahead with the project anyway.
Edinburgh has spent £1m on upgrading the airport forecourt to support the new drop-off zone, which will “reduce congestion” and increase the popularity of public transport, according to the airport’s chief, Kevin Brown. However, drivers at East Midlands Airport might find amusing the idea that the parking fee will reduce traffic jams. Back in July, Eddie Strachan, a taxi driver from Narborough in the Midlands, said – “Early in the morning, the queue for the new drop-off zone reaches back out of the airport. It can take you 15 minutes to get in.”
Disabled customers with a Blue Badge can use Edinburgh’s new drop-off zone free for up to 15 minutes. Other customers will find the short-stay car park has a more agreeable tariff for stays of longer than 10 minutes.