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Drivers could be charged £5 for Heathrow drop-offs

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Heathrow has announced proposals to introduce a £5 charge for terminal drops-offs after revealing it's suffered £1.5bn losses this year amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The ‘Forecourt Access Charge’ of £5 for cars to enter terminal departure areas from Q4 2021 has been proposed in a bid to raise revenue to offset airport costs and lower charges for passengers.

However, some exemptions will apply, including blue badge holders and emergency vehicles. A full list of exemptions is yet to be finalised.

Passengers already have the alternative option of being dropped off in long stay car parks and travelling to terminals via a free shuttle bus.

The move comes as Heathrow has been losing £5m a day over the course of the pandemic, with passenger numbers down 80% from the typical 80 million a year.

However, it is keen to avoid a ‘car led airport recovery’ from Covid-19 as it looks to balance environmental impacts with protecting jobs.

It said it expects fewer cars on the road due to reduced passenger demand, but concerns around using public transport due to the pandemic present a new challenge.

As such, the new £5 charge will replace plans for a Heathrow Ultra Low Emissions Zone (HULEZ) announced in May 2019, although future emissions reductions schemes could be considered.

Heathrow director of surface access, Tony Caccavone, said: “The impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic have been severe, especially on the aviation industry with Heathrow passenger numbers down over 80% and the business losing £5m a day. These changes will help us to protect the business financially and save jobs in the short-term, while also allowing us to stay on track for our long-term goals of providing safe, sustainable and affordable transport options into the future.”

Similar drop-off charges are already in place at eight out of the 10 largest UK airports including Manchester, Stansted and Birmingham. Gatwick Airport has recently announced plans to implement a similar charge.

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