Heathrow is planning to charge drivers £5 to drop off loved ones from next year in what they claim is part of a “green initiative”.
Airport bosses claim the new charge will encourage travellers to use public transport and help it reach its sustainability goals.
In a move that threatens to enrage legions of travellers as Britain re-emerges from the pandemic, the airport is set to impose a “Forecourt Access Charge”.
Heathrow said the charge would "protect the business financially" after racking up £1.5 billion of losses in 2020, while preventing a “car led airport recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic”
Manchester, Stansted and Birmingham airports already charge drivers from drop-offs. Gatwick has announced plans to introduce a tariff in the future.
Surinder Arora, the billionaire businessman who runs hotels next to the airport said: “It has been tough for everyone. Nothing surprises me with Heathrow.”
Mr Arora has endured a frosty relationship with bosses at Heathrow for a number of years having clashed over the building of multi-story car parks and third runway.
“Being the most expensive airport for customers already, it [the £5 charge] is just shocking,” he said.
Environmental campaigners welcomed to discourage cars and incentivise passengers to use Heathrow’s public transport links. The airport is at the end of the Piccadilly Line on London Underground and is served by the Heathrow Express train from Paddington Station.
Stop Heathrow Expansion representative Geraldine Nicholson said: “Although this scheme is presented as a method of Heathrow inducing further revenue, it will hopefully incentivise less car use at and around the airport.
“Heathrow Airport should use the funds generated through the scheme to re-introduce the Heathrow Free Travel Zone that they are abolishing in 2021 and other public transport discount schemes that it supported until last month. This is essential if Heathrow are to stand any chance of improving public transport use at the Airport in both the short and long term.”
Tony Caccavone, a director at the airport said: “The impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic have been severe, especially on the aviation industry with Heathrow passenger numbers down over 80pc and the business losing £5m a day.
“These changes will help us to protect the business financially and save jobs in the short term, whilst also allowing us to stay on track for our long-term goals of providing safe, sustainable and affordable transport options into the future.”