Belfast Telegraph

Report shows Northern Ireland travellers pay through the nose to leave vehicles at airports

By Claire McNeilly

Passengers parking cars at Northern Ireland airports are paying substantially more than many of their counterparts in the Republic, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal today.

Leaving a vehicle at George Best Belfast City Airport (GBBCA) may cost over four times as much as parking at Dublin Airport, while Belfast International Airport (BIA) can charge more than double for just 24 hours. It has also emerged that GBBCA charges 87% more to pre-book to park for seven days in its long-stay, while it is 26% more expensive for a pre-booked fortnight at both Belfast airports.

New research provided exclusively for the Belfast Telegraph by the Northern Ireland Consumer Council, shows that only City of Derry Airport (CoDA) offers cheaper rates than Dublin for some pre-booked stay options.

Indeed, according to the figures, airport car parking prices can vary enormously depending on geographical location. The findings included:

* 24 hours pre-booked in the long-stay car park at GBBCA costs £22 compared to £6.49 at BIA – a staggering 239% more expensive.

* BIA has the highest gate price for 14 days in its long-stay facility, costing £105.50 compared to £100 at CoDA, £95 at GBBCA and £87.07 in Dublin.

* Passengers can save 51% (or £53.51) at BIA by pre-booking a 14-day stay, 45% (£43) at GBBCA and a whopping 68% (£68) at CoDA.

* Three days pre-booked at GBBCA costs £37 – 164% more than BIA, at £13.99. The £39.50 gate price at BGGCA is 112% more than Dublin (£18.66) and 20% more than BIA and CoDA (both £33).

* At GBBCA the pre-booked rate for seven days' long-stay is £45 – which is £19.01 (73%) dearer than BIA and £20.95 (87%) compared to Dublin. It's also £27 (150%) more expensive than CoDA.

The Consumer Council said pre-booking could amount to savings of £23 for three days in a long-stay facility, or up to £68 for 14 days.

Scott Kennerly, the watchdog's head of policy (transport), said: "The average price for a return flight booked four weeks in advance is £65.48. For someone on a three-day trip looking to park in a long-stay car park, the cost of parking without pre-booking can cost half as much again.

"Pre-booking to park for three days at Belfast International's long-stay car park can save you around £19, the saving is £2.50 at George Best Belfast City Airport and it is £23 at City of Derry Airport. Parking can be pre-booked online for all three Northern Ireland airports and additionally by phone for Belfast International Airport and City of Derry Airport at the same rate as online."

A GBBCA spokeswoman said the airport couldn't comment on the specific findings of a report it hasn't yet seen.

"However, we believe car parking at Belfast City Airport is competitively priced compared with other airports in the UK, with considerable discounts for those that pre-book online," she added.

"Given the airport's excellent location so close to Belfast city centre, it is well served with regular bus services and a rail halt nearby, from which passengers can avail of a free shuttle bus service."

A spokeswoman for BIA, which caters for over four million passengers each year, said it was important for the airport to offer value for money car parking.

"Over the last year we have reduced our car parking charges to just £3.49 per day when pre-booked," she said. "We have also introduced corporate cards for our business passengers to ensure that those travellers who are using the car parks several times a month are getting best value."

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