Highlands and Islands Airports Limited is to extend concessions and exemptions ahead of July's implementation of Stornoway airport car parking charges.
HIAL announced new concessions and exemptions for travellers affected by charges being introduced at its airports in Shetland and Orkney as well as Stornoway.
The airports will follow HIAL airports at Inverness and Dundee, where parking charges are already in place, when the charges are introduced on July 1.
HIAL managing director Inglis Lyon, said: “We have met and consulted with a range of stakeholders since we announced our intention to charge for parking in March, and from the outset of those discussions we were keen to listen to the views of the communities involved and reflect their views in the way the charges were implemented.”
“A survey of more than 500 airport users, as part of a consultation process, has recently been completed and that has delivered considered and valuable feedback from the public at all three airports.”
“As a result we have broadened the range of concessions and exemptions to better mitigate the implementation of car parking charges on those directly affected.”
The five key areas are as follows;
- Those travelling for NHS appointments - HIAL will work with the relevant NHS Trusts to offer an efficient means of ensuring patients can obtain free parking when travelling by air to and from appointments
- Compassionate travel - HIAL will complement a compassionate travel policy already used by Loganair with free parking for passengers travelling under the terms of this policy.
- Inter-Island travel - Free parking will be made available at Sumburgh and Orkney airports for the use of inter-island travellers. Inter-island residents can apply to the relevant airport to register one vehicle per household as part of the scheme.
- Blue Badge Holders - Will be able to park free of charge. The scheme will be reviewed after 12 months.
- Extension of the drop off/pick up period from one to two hours - This has been extended by an hour to take into account a reasonable period to mitigate any flight delays.
HIAL has published information on how the implementation of the new parking system will operate on its website and at the airports. In total, 549 airport users were interviewed at three airport terminals (Sumburgh, Orkney, and Stornoway) with 17 people filling in self-completion questionnaires.
Mr Lyon said: “Clearly, if given a preference, most people would not wish to pay for a service that had previously been provided for free. However, there remains an urgent need to raise the revenue required to reinvest in maintaining viable air services for our island communities.
“We believe a fair and proportionate parking charge for airport users is one means of maintaining the necessary investment. The money raised will be continuously reinvested to maintain and ultimately improve facilities, ensuring the long-term resilience of airport operations on the islands.”
A substantial majority (75%) of those who parked in the airport car park would definitely not, or are unlikely to, change how they travel to the airport after July 1st. Some 25% of those who parked in the airport car park would definitely or possibly change how they travel to the airport. Most would switch to being dropped off instead of parking the car at the airport, or take the bus. An enhanced bus service is seen as the main means of addressing difficulties.
- Two thirds of sample travelled to the airport by private or company vehicle
- 50% of sample were in a vehicle that parked in the airport car park
- 17% were dropped off without using airport car park
- Use of bus varies by airport- depends on timetable’s fit with flights, and the number of communities served by the routes
- 14% said their party included a Blue Badge scheme member (compares to 4% of Scottish adult population)
Around 40% of residents were flying for business/work, 16% on health-related trips. Around 18% were on holiday or a short break. Over half of visitors were making a business/work trip, most others were on a holiday/short break. More than 75% of all interviewees were catching a flight.
A private vehicle parked at the airport is main transport mode for airport users, less than 20% use taxi or bus.
Convenience is the main underlying reason for not using bus, but unsuitable timings rule the bus out for vast majority at Stornoway.
Vast majority (87%) of those dropping off passengers do not park in the car park.
Most resident flyers are away for between two and five days.
The full survey results are available on the HIAL website.