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Airport may soon charge you £1 to use their trolleys

By Claire McNeilly

Bosses at Northern Ireland’s biggest airport are refusing to rule out controversial plans to charge customers for using luggage trolleys, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

Passengers flying in or out of Belfast International Airport could be hit by a tariff of at least £1 per trolley before the end of this year, industry insiders have claimed.

And the new levy — which could kick off just as the summer holiday season starts in earnest — is expected to be non-refundable as is the case with other UK airports.

This latest development comes on the same day that the imposition of a new £1 drop-off charge comes into effect, amid widespread criticism from consumer groups.

A spokeswoman for Belfast International last night declined to rule out a forthcoming fee for baggage pushcarts, adding that “all aspects of the business” are constantly reviewed.

“Trolley charging is an area that we have looked into, however no decision has been made regarding this,” she said.

Belfast International's Spanish owners, Abertis, introduced a £1 trolley charge at another of its airports, London Luton, in 2008. Just last week the company operating trolley concessions at Luton increased its fees to £2, as did Bristol Airport, which is owned by three shareholders.

The new charge could hit Abertis-owned Cardiff Airport in the future and is widely tipped to be rolled out across a number of other airports.

Simon Calder, senior travel editor at the Independent newspaper, said: “If the system works at other Abertis-owned airports, why wouldn’t they consider operating it in Belfast?

“It certainly seems likely that trolley charges will follow in the wake of drop-off charges and fast-track security charges.

“The proliferation of low-fare airlines means that passengers should expect to pay for more and more services — especially given the shortfall in airport spending and passenger numbers.”

A spokesman for George Best Belfast City Airport said there were “absolutely no plans” to introduce trolley charges there this year.

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