Airport chief defends plan to launch £1 drop-off fee

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EDINBURGH Airport's managing director today defended plans for a controversial £1 drop-off charge and insisted customers should make a "modest contribution" in return for tens of millions of pounds of investment.

Gordon Dewar issued an open letter - addressed "to all passengers, Edinburgh businesses, community groups and politicians" - setting out the case for the new charge, which is due to be introduced in October. Airport bosses have faced a barrage of criticism since the News revealed plans for the charge last month. n his letter, Mr Dewar said the charge was for a "premium drop-off facility" and stressed passengers could still be dropped off free further away.

He claimed the charge would help reduce "kiss and fly" journeys to and from the airport and encourage more use of public transport, leading to a reduction in emissions, as well as contributing to construction costs.

Mr Dewar said: "Edinburgh Airport is no longer a small, local airport, but a significant and extremely competitive player on the European stage.

"As we grow, it is inevitable that some of the most convenient aspects of a small, local airport will be lost as we seek to build sufficient capacity on our own road network and in our terminal buildings to comfortably manage ever-increasing numbers of people." He said BAA was investing 42 million in infrastructure at the airport to support its forecasted growth from nine million passengers a year to 13 million over the coming years - including relocating and expanding the drop-off facility which is currently at capacity.

He said: "We believe the fairest way is to ask those that use the service to pay 1 and offering those who don't want to use it a free alternative.

"Not charging the airlines for this development allows us to keep the cost for airlines flying to and from Edinburgh as low as it needs to be to deliver the routes that we are.

"The more money we can generate from retailing, car parking and the provision of other services, the less we charge airlines, making Edinburgh Airport more competitive and ultimately increasing the routes for passengers. I am more than happy to debate these issues, and to put the case for a sensible balance between investment in international routes and quality airport facilities and the principle that says the user should make a modest contribution in return for tens of millions of pounds of investment."