| 10.1°C Belfast

Our airport car parking is the costliest in the UK and Ireland

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

Seven-days pre-booked in the long-stay car park at George Best Belfast City Airport costs £45.70, compared to £15.99 for anyone leaving a vehicle at Cardiff Airport, a staggering 186% more expensive.

Likewise, at Belfast International Airport (BIA) and City of Derry Airport (CODA) the pre-booked rate for seven days long-stay is £35 — which is 119% dearer than in the Welsh capital.

Figures exclusively provided for the Belfast Telegraph by the Northern Ireland Consumer Council show that prices are between 20% and almost 190% higher here than at airport car parks in other major airports.

Only London Luton, which charges £50.49, was more expensive than all three local airports after the tariffs from all six comparison venues were analysed.

Finance Minister Sammy Wilson said the figures were staggering. “The differential between Northern Ireland and other airports is outrageous,” Mr Wilson said. “It’s an unfair burden to put on families going away on holiday, particularly now when disposable incomes are so stretched.

“I think it requires an explanation from the airports as to how they can justify such high charges.”

Consumer Council chief executive Antoinette McKeown described the findings as “eye-opening” for passengers.

“Families are struggling to make ends meet and many will save for a long time to go on a holiday,” Ms McKeown said.

“We want to highlight the issue of airport car parking which is a fee that should be taken into account when planning travel.”

The Consumer Council compared the cost of pre-booked parking for seven days in long stay airport car parks in Northern Ireland with those in Dublin, East Midlands, Newcastle, Liverpool John Lennon, London Luton and Cardiff. The watchdog carried out its initial research in February and verified the results of the study yesterday ahead of the publication of this article.

The findings show that Belfast City Airport is £29.71 (or 186%) more expensive than in Cardiff, while BIA and CODA are £19.01 dearer (119%).

Passengers leaving cars at Belfast City are currently paying 51% more than in Dublin (where it costs £29.37), while those opting for BIA and CODA are forking out an extra £5.63 (20%).

A spokesman for George Best Belfast City Airport said it was possible to avail of lower tariffs.

“Those wishing to park at GBBCA can avail of seven or 14 days parking for £30 provided they pre-book online,” he said.

“The airport also offers visitors 10 minutes free parking for pick-up and drop-off purposes.”

No-one at Belfast International Airport was last night available for comment.

It pays to pre-book... you’ll save up to 60%

Holidaymakers who don’t pre-book car parking spaces at Northern Ireland airports risk paying up to 60% more than those who do, it can be revealed.

New research shows that airport parking charges have increased by as much as 25% across the board in just 18 months.

The news comes as hundreds of people are gearing up for the first flushes of the 2012 summer holiday getaway season.

Seven days pre-booked in the long-stay car park at Belfast International Airport (BIA) or City of Derry Airport (CODA) will cost £35, compared to £55 for anyone who simply turns up and pays on the day of departure.

The pre-booking rate for seven days at George Best Belfast City Airport (GBBCA) is £45.70, whereas it costs £57 if you don’t reserve a space in advance.

Antoinette McKeown, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Consumer Council — which provided the research for the Belfast Telegraph — said people should shop around to get the best value for money.

“We have seen considerable increases in car parking charges at airports of up to 25% in the last 18 months,” Ms McKeown said.

The consumer watchdog compared the cost of parking at BIA, GBBCA and CODA with the prices charged at Dublin, East Midlands, Newcastle, Liverpool John Lennon, Luton and Cardiff airports. It found that pre-booked parking at the province's three airports is more expensive than several of their UK counterparts, as well as Dublin.

GBBCA is Northern Ireland’s most expensive airport for people who turn up and leave their cars for seven days, because of a 19% hike from since August 2010.

Belfast Telegraph