Gatwick to implement charging for vehicles on North Terminal forecourt from 8 March 2021
Last October I wrote about Gatwick’s plans to implement a charge for drop offs. I thought it was a bad idea then and it’s an even worse idea now. It just creates another layer of hassle when we are allowed to travel again. Now on top of tests, vaccine certificates and insurance hassles, you now have to fiddle about paying for extra charges to be dropped outside the airport for the period of about 2 minutes. While I agree we should use transport links where possible, it is simply not a viable option in many situations. With travellers already having to pay hundreds of pounds extra for tests, then slapping another charge on when they will need to be encouraging us to travel soon, seems like a false economy. £5 seems a ludicrous amount as well.
Gatwick Airport has confirmed, following an initial announcement of plans for the scheme in October 2020, that on 8 March 2021 it will introduce a £5 charge for vehicles which drop off passengers directly outside its North Terminal, where all flights are currently operating to and from. The charge will be extended to the South Terminal forecourt at a later date. The initiative is apparently helping to reduce traffic congestion (never been an issue on any trip I have been on through there) and emissions for the surrounding area as well as being a deterrent for a car-led recovery once more regular travel resumes post the COVID-19 national lockdown. At a time when people want to avoid public transport as there will be some level of risk of Covid for a while, this change seems particularly ill-thought out.
They also state that “The charge will also create a vital new revenue stream for the airport, providing further protection for local jobs as the negative economic impacts of the pandemic continue.” So should perhaps every company affected by the pandemic put their prices up?
Anyone who does not wish to pay the charge will be able to drop-off or pick-up passengers in the airport’s long-stay car parks with two hours free parking and a free shuttle bus to the terminal or use public transport.
By encouraging other forms of journey to the airport, the charge will help Gatwick continue to meet its commitment to reduce ‘Kiss and Fly’ – the least sustainable type of journey to the airport as it involves two return car journeys – and may contribute to a reduction in traffic at Gatwick and surrounding local areas. In 2019 around 15% of airport journeys were ‘Kiss and Fly’. Reducing the airport’s environmental impact continues to be an important focus and Gatwick will make a contribution from the revenue into Gatwick’s existing Sustainable Transport Fund. That’s all very well, but if you are travelling in an electric car, you are still being charged anyway!
Jonathan Pollard, Chief Commercial Officer, said: “It is no secret that the airport is going through the most difficult period in its history and we have little choice but to explore new revenue streams that will us help us recover from the COVID-19 crisis and continue as an important provider of economic prosperity and jobs across the region.
“This new scheme will also encourage passengers to consider more sustainable transport options, including taking advantage of our excellent public transport services. We plan to use this charge to build on these services by using a proportion of the revenue raised to support new sustainable transport initiatives, in addition to our ongoing project to build a new £150 million airport train station which is progressing well.”
The charge will be £5 for 10 minutes, and £1 for each additional minute up to 20 minutes. The maximum charge will be £25 and the maximum length of stay 30 mins.
The charging system and enforcement will be managed using convenient barrier-free technology and by Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras. Passengers using the system will be able to pay online using a range of payment methods including credit or debit card, Google and Apple Pay. How many people rushing for a flight will remember to do that?
Marshals will also be on hand in the forecourts to assist passengers. National Car Parks (EUK) Ltd has been appointed Gatwick’s operations partner on forecourt charging and will support all of the payment and penalty notice process for the scheme.
Blue badge holders will be able to access the forecourt free of charge by registering their details (www.gatwickairport.com/dropoff) up to three months in advance before arriving at the airport.
When the charge is introduced for the South Terminal, at a later date, local commuters living within a limited number of postcode sectors close to the airport (RH6 0, RH6 9, RH11 0) with no public transport access will be allowed two visits per day to use the train station by paying an annual £50 charge. Residents in these areas wishing register with the Local Commuter Scheme should visit www.gatwickairport.com/dropoff for information on how to register.
A Red Route system is being introduced across the airport campus to indicate that stopping to park, load or unload, board or alight from a vehicle is prohibited. Revenue raised through Red Route fines will also be used to fund sustainable transport initiatives under the guidance of the airport’s Transport Steering Group, which includes external representatives from local authorities and transport operators.
Etihad beats Singapore in the race to vaccinate crew
Singapore airlines had vowed to beat every other airline in the race to vaccinate their cabin crew. Sadly they were pipped to the post today by Etihad. It is great to see that airlines are able to protect staff and passengers in this way. Hopefully in the UK consideration will be given to all key workers including airline staff getting their vaccines early once the first 9 cohorts have been finished. Singapore instead announced that they had operated its first flight with a fully vaccinated crew.
Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has become the first airline in the world with all its operating pilots and cabin crew vaccinated to help curb the spread of COVID-19 and give passengers who travel with the airline peace of mind.
Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Aviation Group, said: “We proactively made the vaccine available to all our employees to not only help combat the effects of COVID-19 but to make travellers feel confident and reassured the next time they fly with us. We are the only airline in the world to make COVID-19 testing mandatory for every passenger and crew member before every flight and now, we’re the first airline in the world with 100% vaccinated crew on board.
“I chose very early on to be vaccinated to demonstrate my own support of the national vaccination programme and to encourage everyone at Etihad who was eligible for the vaccine, to receive it as soon as possible. I would like to thank the entire Etihad family for everything they have done to help us reach this milestone – I am truly humbled.”
This achievement was made possible through Etihad’s ‘Protected Together’ employee vaccination initiative which was formally launched in January this year. Building on the UAE’s Choose to Vaccinate campaign, Protected Together is about helping staff take proactive, personal steps towards protecting themselves against COVID-19.
In 2020, Etihad took significant steps towards supporting employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. In collaboration with the health authorities, the airline facilitated access for its frontline staff to the UAE’s Emergency Use Programme. Etihad was one of the first employers in the capital to secure places for their frontline staff – including pilots and cabin crew – in Abu Dhabi’s vaccination programme. Etihad also ensured the Etihad Airways Medical Centre became an accredited COVID-19 vaccination clinic.
Would knowing that an airline’s cabin crew are all vaccinated make you more likely to fly with them? Let us know in the comments below.