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The most expensive short-stay airport car park is……?

Chauffeur and private hire drivers regularly highlight on social media the high costs of short-stay airport car parks. Many feel that the fees being charged are beyond reasonable. So we’ve conducted research to reveal the worst offending airports in the UK and the operators that run them.

For a chauffeur or private hire driver it’s important that they are there ready and waiting for their client as they walk through arrivals. Their vehicle must also be parked in a convenient location close to the the terminal.

We’ve compiled a list ranking the UK’s 15 busiest airports from the most expensive to the cheapest for a 1-hour short stay car park.

Thanks to the internet, a professional driver should be able to anticipate their client’s landing time fairly accurately. However, with the possibility of a long walk from their gate, delays at passport control, hold ups at baggage collection as well as customs still to navigate, it is not unfeasible that drivers will be required to regularly wait in arrivals for clients for up to an hour. To avoid any delays make sure that you have your us passport renewal done.

Worst offending: short-stay airport car parks

*Prices accurate as per research conducted on May 30th 2015

London weighting – or should that be waiting…

Unsurprisingly London’s airports take all of top 5 positions. The Capital’s airports are by far the most costly for chauffeur and private hire drivers to park.

London City Airport claims first place, coming in 1300% more expensive than Belfast in last position. Given that it is situated centrally where prime real estate holds exorbitantly high values it is not entirely unexpected.

London Luton Airport, which is some 34 miles outside of the London’s city centre, taking second place is likely to raise more eyebrows. At £10 per hour it is over 3 times more expensive than East Midlands Airport that came in 11th. The airport is run by the local borough and is currently at the centre of controversy after deciding to award the contract to run its taxi rank to London based private hire firm Addison Lee.

Most expensive airport operator for short-stay car park costs

Two UK airports owned by Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) occupy positions in the top 4. Their dominance at the top of the cost rankings were broken by London City Airport which is now owned by Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and London Luton which as mentioned above is owned by the local council.

The sky high fees at London City airport may be due to location or a legacy issue as the facility was only recently purchased by the Canadian teacher’s investment vehicle from PIB.

Bristol and Birmingham airports, which Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan also have interests in, sit much higher in the list at 8th and 9th in the list respectively.

The fees set by GIP at London Gatwick are perhaps suppressed due to fierce competition with their rival at Heathrow. Until announced the creation of a specific parking area  for chauffeur and private hire drivers it shared fourth place on the list with Gatwick at £7 per hour. However, GIP owned Edinburgh Airport tops both of its more illustrious competitors by coming in 3rd at £7.90 per hour.

We contacted GIP but were informed that they did not wish to comment on their pricing policy.

Pick up areas now monitored

Airport car part costs have been introduced in many airports for drivers stopping in pick up areas for over 10 – 20 minutes. These are enforced by Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras to prevent drivers causing congestion in what can be very busy areas.

An experienced chauffeur driver will know of a number of suitable locations where they can wait if they arrive well in advanced of their client, in order to avoid car park charges. Short-stay car park fees are unavoidable for most drivers who cannot guarantee how quickly their clients will take to come through arrivals after landing.

Heathrow provide car park for private hire drivers

The airport will be launching the trial of a chauffeur and private hire driver car parking area from June 15th. The trial has the working title Authorised Vehicle Areas (AVA).

The good news for drivers is that the car park will be £1 an hour for up to 5 hours. That means it will be at the top of the most competitively priced short-stay airport car parks, sharing the place with Belfast International.

Drivers will be able to wait in the holding area car park prior to moving to designated bays in the airport’s multi storey car parks when their passengers near the arrivals lounge. 

We approached Heathrow to clarify a couple of questions from our clients. Would the £1/hour (up to a maximum of 5 hours) AVA rate apply to the time the drivers spend in the multi-storey car park as well? Or would drivers have to pay an additional fee for the multi-storey, short-stay car park where passengers would be picked up?

No. The standard short-stay charges apply once in those facilities. The purpose of the Ava is to move vehicles from the local roads.

Heathrow spokseman


Action was needed to appease local residents in Heathrow who were justifiable fed up with large numbers of private hire drivers clogging up local roads. Some private drivers had even resorted to parking in motorway slip roads.

Residents launched a campaign to highlight the anti-social behaviour of some drivers whilst they waited for bookings. Without proper facilities a number were caught relieving themselves in bushes. This proved to be the final straw and provoked a reaction from the airport.

The owners of Heathrow Airport, perhaps as part of their charm offensive in the pursuit of consent to build a third runway, have provided private hire drivers with a designated car park from June 2016.

Though the undesirable situation might have been avoided altogether if the airport’s short-term car park charges were less expensive in the first place. Heathrow’s costs ranked joint 4th when compared to the 15 other busiest UK airport car park costs.

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