Thousands urged to sign petition against Edinburgh Airport drop-off fee

A PETITION against controversial plans to charge motorists £1 for dropping off passengers at Edinburgh Airport has been launched as part of a high- profile campaign on the issue.

Motorists who drop off passengers will have to pay 1. Picture: TSPL

The move comes after a decision by airport operator BAA's to introduce the charges from the beginning of October sparked fury among motorists and air passengers, with the company accused of "profiteering".

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Now Lothians Conservative MSP Gavin Brown has launched a petition, which he hopes will get thousands of signatures, in a bid to stop the charges.

He has also lodged a motion at Holyrood protesting at what he describes as a "tax" that could see BAA raking in nearly 1 million from motorists.

The motion has attracted cross-party support, with 15 MSPs putting their name to it.

Airport bosses claim the charge is needed to cover the 4m cost of improving services for passengers and also reduce vehicle emissions. The operator says that it wants to encourage people using the airport to travel there by public transport.

However, Mr Brown said that since the charges were announced, he had been contacted by pensioners and families with young children who do not have an alternative way of getting to the airport.

His petition, which has been posted online, describes the charges as "just plain mean" and demands that BAA scrap the plans, which would also see people who overstay the designated ten minutes made to pay an excess charge.

The MSP also claimed BAA had failed to consult passengers and airport users over the plan to impose charges.

He said: "Since the drop-off charges story broke, my in-box has been inundated with comments from constituents angry at the plans by Edinburgh airport to introduce this 'drop-off rip-off' charge.

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"One of the main charges against Edinburgh airport is that they failed to do this without any passenger consultation and it is vitally important that they are made aware of the strength of feeling against the introduction of this ridiculous charge and I am urging people to sign this petition.

"For many people, including older residents and those with young families, taking public transport to the airport is not a viable option, and Edinburgh airport bosses should now abandon the introduction of this ill-thought-out charge."

But budget airline Ryanair has thrown its weight behind the charge, which is said it had "absolutely no problem with".

The Irish airline, which has recently announced plans to charge passengers 1 to use in-flight toilets, went on to say the current drop-off area was "abused and often resembled a car park".

Airport managing director Gordon Dewar defended the charges and accused Mr Brown's party of hiking-up the cost of airline travel during the recent UK government Budget.

He said: "In the recent Budget, Gavin Brown's colleagues increased the tax paid on every airline ticket.

"From November, every man, woman and child who travels to or from Scotland will be taxed from 12 up to 170, and none of that money is reinvested in passenger facilities.

"We would be happy to debate our 1 charge, every penny of which is reinvested in delivering a safe, modern airport with a diverse choice of destinations."