More Airports Starting to Charge Drivers Who Are Dropping Off Passengers



More Airports Starting to Charge Drivers Who Are Dropping Off Passengers


Glasgow airport in Scotland will join Edinburgh and Aberdeen in charging drivers just to drop off passengers.

The 2 pound fee can be avoided by dropping off passengers at long-term parking and having them bus to the terminal.


Copyright: boscorelli / 123RF Stock Photo

This seems on face shocking, however businesses frequently pay an airport fee already — whether it’s taxis or Uber, or hotel or rental car shuttles. Usually passengers aren’t charged, but commercial vehicles on airport property frequently are.

It’s actually not unprecedented to charge passengers who are dropping off passengers, even in the U.S.: DFW airport’s access road has a toll and driving through in under 8 minutes costs $4. Several years ago they raised the price from $1 to $2, but gave a $1 discount for using an automated toll tag. They not only raised the price from $2 to $4, but eliminated that discount as well.

They’ve set it up with that 8 minute cutoff so that commuters using the access road pay more than passengers.

Airports usually justify the fee as:

  1. Limiting congestion. If people have to pay to drive onto the airport grounds, fewer of them will do it (pushing people to car pool, use public transit, or shuttle on in a group from off airport).
  2. Raise revenue for airport investment. All they’re saying there is that it’s a source of money and they need money.

In the case of this second argument, they’re in a position to extract rents and they choose a variety of ways to do that. It’s why higher minimum wages work at airports. The capital investment has been made and is unlikely to be duplicated, so airlines and passengers are ‘stuck’ along a certain margin. Although lower cost carriers may seek less-expensive airports that are relatively nearby such as Fort Lauderdale instead of Miami so airport costs do matter.

While dropoff fees are common in the U.K., Birmingham’s airport actually plans to eliminate the fee before summer.




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