Car parking charges at Belfast International Airport are set to rise by up to 50% in the New Year, passengers were warned today.
The airport said franchise operator Q-Park was introducing new pricing structures from January 3 to encourage more holidaymakers to pre- book.
Those facing the biggest increases are motorists who turn up on spec at the long-stay car park - they will pay £42 per week instead of £28 at present.
Holidaymakers who pre-book by phone or the internet will pay £24 for a week's parking against £21 at present - up 14.3%.
In the short-stay car park, the first 15 minutes will still be free but the charge for up to 30 minutes goes up by 7% from £1.40 to £1.50.
In the main stay car park, the charge for a day's parking rises by 13% from £8.40 to £9.50.
An airport spokeswoman said the re-structuring was geared towards ensuring that passengers used the car park best suited to the length of their stay.
John Doran, the BIA managing director, said the price increase came in advance of a £100,000 investment by Q-Park in a new pre-booking system.
But he insisted some parking rates were still lower than they had been before Dublin-based Q-Park took control of the airport car parks in January this year.
He said: "This move is aimed at providing some of the best value airport parking in the island of Ireland.
"Some 93% of passengers using the short-stay car park will be unaffected or better off than they were in 2005."
Mr Doran said it was BIA's intention that the parking rates would remain fixed for throughout 2007.
As a seasonal concession, parking will be free for the first hour in the short-stay car park from today until midnight on Christmas Eve.
At Belfast City Airport the long-stay car park charges £10 per day and it was recently disclosed that the airport makes a profit of £40,000 a week from its car parking activities.
The Consumer Council had no immediate comment to make on the price rises at Belfast International.
Eddie Lynch, head of consumer affairs at the Consumer Council said it was essential the airport provided passengers with open and transparent information about the new charges.
He said the Consumer Council would be holding BIA to its "intention" to peg prices for the coming year.
Mr Lynch added: "What customers need is commitment, not intention, and we will be pressing BIA for this commitment."