Consumer Council's role in protecting travellers
In response to T D Johnston (Write Back, July 20), the Consumer Council is happy to outline again the actions we have taken and results we have had in terms of lobbying the airport over drop-off/pick-up fees.
Our role is to protect and promote the interests of all consumers in Northern Ireland.
The Consumer Council would like to assure T D Johnston that, despite the fact that Belfast International Airport (BIA) - as a private company - was entitled to introduce this charge with no advance warning or consultation, we called strongly and repeatedly for the airport to provide a free alternative to the £1 charge for dropping off and picking up.
When the airport failed to respond, the Consumer Council requested a meeting, during which BIA revealed there had, in fact, always been a 10-minute 'grace period' in the long-stay car park and confirmed passengers dropping off and picking up could use that instead to avoid the £1 charge.
We understand T D Johnston's frustration with the charge; we were also frustrated that it took a week for the airport to divulge the existence of this free, alternative option for people - and only as a result of the Consumer Council insisting on a meeting.
We have also secured BIA's commitment to start promoting this 10-minute grace period in the long-stay car park. We are also in discussions to make sure there are alternative options for people with a disability.