More than two thirds of the UK’s 22 busiest airports have introduced or increased charges for drivers to drop off passengers since the start of the pandemic, the RAC says.

Stansted charges the most of drop-offs, while London City is free and Belfast and Cardiff are free for set amounts of time, the motoring group says.

Sixteen of the 22 airports analysed introduced or increased the charges.

The RAC said it appeared airports were trying to recoup pandemic losses.

The motoring group said drivers would be “stunned” by some of the “sky-high” fees.

Researchers for the organisation found Stansted currently charges £7 for 15 minutes, up from £4 for 20 minutes in 2019.

This was closely followed by Manchester Airport, which charges £5 for five minutes – up from £3 in three years ago.

Heathrow and Gatwick, the UK’s busiest airports have introduced a charges of £5 for drop-offs.

Meanwhile, Luton, Bristol, Leeds Bradford and Southend all charge £5 for 10 minutes.

The RAC said in Scotland, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Glasgow airports doubled their fees compared to 2019 levels, charging £4 for a 10 minute stay.

It said London City is the cheapest as it is free and has no time limit, while Belfast City is free for 10 minutes and Cardiff is free for five.

Birmingham and Belfast International airports were among five out of the 22 to have kept their fees the same since 2019.

The Airport Operators Association, the body which represents airports, said customers had been provided clear information on the cost of car parking and drop-off options, adding many airports offered free drop-off and pick-up alternatives with good links to the terminals.

A spokesperson added that charges for dropping off directly outside terminals were operated for a number of different reasons, including to manage congestion.

Nicholas Lyes, RAC head of roads policy, said that the airports had hiked fees to “partially make up” for the lost revenue during the pandemic.

“Anyone dropping a loved one off at the terminal this summer will be stunned by some of these sky-high, kiss-and-drop charges,” he said.

“And for those using the UK’s two busiest airports, the luxury of free drop-offs outside the terminal building has been replaced by some pretty high fees.

“Minute for minute and pound for pound, some of these charges could almost be as high as the airfare itself,” he added.

Mr Lyes warned people to be aware that many airports use cameras to spot drop-off cars in the wrong areas and said going over the time limit could typically cost more than the initial parking fee.

Source: Civil Aviation Authority – Qatar

General