By Clare Carswell
TAXI drivers will be forced to bear the brunt of a new drop-off charge at Edinburgh Airport being introduced from today (Fri).
While disabled passengers will also find their journeys made more complicated by changes to the system.
Airport bosses will start charging £1 for every car and taxi to drop passengers off outside the terminal after deeming thee the forecourt area as no-longer “fit for purpose”.
An airport spokesman said: “We have, for a number of reasons, decided to introduce a charge in our forecourt, which is no longer fit for purpose.
“At peak times, we have a car arrive every 11 seconds and there is only space for 18 cars.”
Disabled passengers who are dropped off by friends and family will not have to pay, as current policy to admit blue badge holders into the forecourt for 15 minutes free of charge will be maintained.
But the free drop-off zone will move further away from the airport terminal to the long-stay car park which requires a three to five minute transfer time by free shuttle bus, these run at a 10 minute intervals.
Taxi drivers will have to pay the fee themselves for all passengers who want dropped off outside the terminal as council legislation prevents them from passing the charge on to their customers.
All major radio taxi firms in Edinburgh, City Cabs, Central Taxis and Com Cabs Taxis, have lodged a request for a review of legislation, in a bid to allow the charge to be added to the customer’s fare.
Murray Flemming, who is the representative for Central Taxis and a committee member of the Scottish Taxi Federation, said: “This will make a significant impact on Edinburgh taxi drivers.
“Effectively, drivers are taking a wage cut.
“I’m concerned for the self-employed drivers who are going to bear the cost in the short term until the council decide whether it is going to be added to the tariff sheet.”
Should this alteration be made, disabled travellers using taxis as transport to the airport will also have to pay the fee if they wish to be dropped off as close as possible to the check-in area.
Sally Hyder, 48, from Edinburgh, suffers from multiple sclerosis and has been reliant on the use of a wheelchair for eight years. As a frequent air traveller, she sometimes takes a taxi to the airport.
She said: “If I was to take a taxi to the airport I would have to pay the pound if it were passed on to the customer, I would need to get to get to the terminal doors.
“If I have a suitcase and my assistance dog with me, I can’t do the shuttle bus on my own so that isn’t a choice.
“That takes the choice away from the disabled customer.”
But airport owners BAA insist that the changes are the best solution to solve their congestion problems.
Their spokesman added: “The best way to get to the airport is by public transport.”
But Gavin Brown MSP for the Lothians has been campaigning against the introduction of this charge for months.
He said: “I think to charge somebody for dropping off friends or family members is pretty mean and plain wrong.”
Mr Brown does not believe that it is necessary for the airport to introduce this fee.
He said: “If you live in the city or Haymarket getting to the airport is fine but if you live further out in the Lothians then the airport is difficult to get to by public transport.”
“I’m concerned about the elderly, disabled people and families with buggies, they all need to stop outside the terminal. I think this move is very self-centred.