Bristol adds drop-off fee, promises new routes

Bristol Airport has become the latest hub to implement a £1 charge for the use of drop-off zones. The levy, which mirrors similar schemes at Newcastle, East Midlands, and Belfast airports, is designed to combat congestion at the Somerset hub, by encouraging motorists to travel on local trains, trams, and buses.

Drop-off fees are very unpopular. The introduction of the £1 levy at Newcastle Airport caused outrage amongst local motorists. Words such as, “chaotic”, “disgraceful”, and “disgusting”, were used liberally by critics in reference to the parking fee, but the scheme continues to gain in popularity at other UK hubs.

The relative apathy with which subsequent ‘pay-per-stay’ car parks have been greeted suggests that holidaymakers have accepted the spread of the £1 tax as inevitable, or that the media has grown tired of reporting on the issue. The addition of the levy at Bristol, for example, has been very sparsely reported, and without a single word of protest from local motorists.

Bristol’s new ‘express’ drop-off area, located a few metres to the southeast of the main terminal building, costs £1 for a stay of up to twenty minutes, and £4 for visits lasting up to half an hour. The new zone replaces a free parking area, which has been moved to the other side of the airport, and now resides within the long-stay parking zone.

A spokesperson for Bristol Airport said that the drop-off fee represents a “decrease in cost”, compared to the previous parking tariff. However, taxi drivers, arguably the group that is hit the hardest by parking charges, will almost invariably lose money, as Bristol has refused to offer any lenience beyond a simple discount.

In related news, Bristol Airport chiefs are “confident” that new destinations will soon be available from the Lulsgate hub. The announcement, made on Bristol’s official website, appeared a few days after the airport’s representatives returned from Routes Europe 2011, an annual ‘match-making’ conference, which aims to connect airports with airlines.

Shawn Browne, aviation director at Bristol, said that the Somerset hub is “fast becoming a destination that other airports want to see on their departure boards”. Mr. Browne noted that airlines were “impressed by the strength of the southwest market”. The new routes, if any, will be revealed in mid-to-late 2011.

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