Select Committee on Transport Written Evidence


APPENDIX 33

Memorandum submitted by the Independent Airport Park and Ride Association

1.  INTRODUCTION

  The Independent Airport Park and Ride Association (IAPRA) is pleased to submit evidence to the Transport Select Committee's inquiry into the work of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

  IAPRA is the trade association which represents the UK's independent off-airport car parking industry. Our membership includes all of the major operators in this sector and our combined 45,000 car parking spaces serve passengers travelling to and from airports throughout the UK. IAPRA's aim is to ensure that the role of the industry is fully understood and properly reflected in the development plans for UK airports and their associated surface access strategies and, more broadly, that our voice is heard in policy debates on issues of importance to our members.

2.  BACKGROUND

  The demand for air travel is growing at unprecedented rates. Additional capacity is required not only at the principal London airports but at regional airports across Britain. As many travellers will continue to arrive at and depart from airports by private car, the provision of additional long and short-term parking spaces is an essential component of the additional infrastructure that is required to meet this growing demand.

  Individuals travel to airports by car for a variety of different reasons and fall into four key categories, namely:

    —  workplace parking;

    —  kiss and fly"/taxi;

    —  business travellers; and

    —  long term park and ride.

  As we seek to demonstrate in this paper, park and ride is an important element in the mix of options that car travellers have and, for a variety of reasons, this option makes an important and beneficial contribution both to the environmental impact of car travel as well as to addressing issues of social exclusion. But there is a lack of understanding about the role that long-term customer parking can play, and IAPRA believes that the issues involved need to be more fully understood by policy makers at local and national level, and, in this instance, by the CAA as the industry's economic regulator.

3.  THE ISSUES

  IAPRA fully supports the government's objectives to increase the proportion of travel to airports made by public transport. However, the car is always likely to remain the preferred method of travel for a significant proportion of travellers, while for many, public transport is not always a viable means of transport. Indeed, from surveys and conversations with our customers, it is clear that public transport simply is not an option for a large number of travellers.

  In environmental terms, after public transport we believe that travelling to airports by private car and parking in off-site long term car parks should be the preferred choice—and facilitated as such by public policy.

  The second biggest contributor to car movements at airports after workplace parking is kiss and fly"—where passengers are dropped off and picked up at airports by friends or relatives—and taxis. These together account for one third of all car movements around airports. Kiss and fly journeys involve two round trips to drop off and pick up and often create severe congestion outside terminal buildings. The same applies to taxi and minicab journeys.

  In addition to the severe congestion that can be caused by kiss and fly, these journeys also raise important environmental considerations since they involve four journeys to and from airports. For taxis, all airports award exclusive licenses to certain taxi companies and only these companies are allowed to tout for business at those airports; other taxi companies bringing passengers to airports are forced to return empty.

  In contrast, a family travelling to an airport and parking in an off-airport long-term car park only makes a single trip to an airport and away from an airport, half the number of car journeys made by taxis or kiss and fly. Furthermore, the long term park and ride option carries passengers to airport terminal buildings in significantly larger groups than do taxis and kiss and fly, or indeed private cars using short stay car parks.

  While IAPRA fully supports the government's policy objective to encourage people to travel to airports by public transport as much as possible, for a significant proportion of travellers this is not an option. Public transport works best when it matches passengers' need for point to point travel. An analysis of the customer bases of IAPRA members' operations at a range of UK airports indicates that the geographical spread of passengers' town of origin is extremely wide in each case. In many of these cases, people would have to travel a long way from their homes to catch a train or bus. Clearly, it will never be feasible to provide public transport for everybody's needs.

  In addition, the bulk of public transport closes down at night and is simply not an option for people arriving or departing from airports during the late night to early morning period. Indeed, around 20% of travellers who use IAPRA car parking facilities do so between midnight and 6.00 am. Furthermore, the cost of public transport is often too high, particularly for families or where large numbers of passengers are travelling together, and for larger groups travelling with baggage, public transport is often an impractical option.

  For these reasons, there will therefore always be a demand for car parking facilities for air travellers, and in order to ease congestion and pollution levels at airports it is important to ensure an adequate provision of off-airport car parks. The park and ride facilities provided by IAPRA members therefore represent an important element in the overall infrastructure provision for airports, and the potential for off-airport park and ride operators to make a sustained contribution to reducing road congestion and pollution needs to be more clearly recognised by policy makers at both local and national level.

  Indeed, IAPRA believes that off-airport park and ride should be considered on a par with public transport as a method of transit to airports. It has the real potential, if harnessed and encouraged appropriately by policy makers, to make a significant impact on reducing the number of taxi and kiss and fly car movements at airport terminals.

  In order for IAPRA members to provide a viable service to travellers it is important that their access to airport and terminal facilities is not restricted and is provided on a non discriminatory basis. IAPRA accepts that an airport is entitled to make charges in respect of these facilities but believes that the level of charge should be based on a cost recovery plus fair profit basis. However, airport operators are clearly in a monopoly or quasi monopoly position and can use their position and bye-law powers to either seek to charge excessive fees for the use of facilities or can provide them some distance from a terminal, thus making their own on- or off-airport parking facilities more attractive.

  By way of example, at Prestwick airport the airport operator has gone so far as to attempt to refuse access to the airport to one IAPRA member arguing that only the airport's own shuttle buses can drop passengers at the terminal buildings, leaving third party operators to deposit and pick up passengers on the busy A77 outside the airport boundary. This is of particular concern to IAPRA, not only from a competition perspective but also because the airport has in recent years benefited from publicly-funded improvements to its coach and bus facilities. Denying access to our member and its customers will, in effect, limit the ability of those people who helped pay for the improvements through taxation to benefit from them.

  Furthermore, at the time of the Aviation White Paper IAPRA expressed concern that the expansion of airport facilities, including car parking provision, appeared to be predicated on a preference for an excessive acquisition of land and associated expansion of airport boundaries, rather than relying on a proper mix of on and off-airport provision of facilities. So far as parking is concerned, IAPRA believes this could result in a lack of consumer choice, higher parking prices and an anti-competitive position being adopted by airport authorities.

  When the capacity of any airport is increased, concerns will arise if the proportion of the airport operator's business carried out within the airport boundary unduly increases resulting in the operators enjoying a more dominant position in relation to competing off-airport businesses. Different findings from inquiries carried out by the CAA, the Monopolies and Mergers Commission and latterly the Competition Commission all showed that airport operators have the potential to abuse their dominant market position in relation to their dealings with third parties.

  IAPRA believes that any expansion of an airport boundary should only be for the purposes of those aviation operations that have to be on airport owned land and does not need to include land side ancillary operations such as car parking, hotel and airport related offices and airline catering facilities.

4.  CONCLUSION

  The issues raised in this submission are, in IAPRA's view, important public policy matters. But they are too often little understood and do not appear to play any significant part in airport policy more generally. We fully understand that other issues, such as runway capacity, international negotiations, aircraft noise, ATOL, security and so forth have been and always will be dominant policy issues for the aviation industry and policy makers. But given the growing concerns over the environmental impact of airports, including traffic congestion in and around airports, IAPRA believes that the issue of off-airport parking and how this is managed by policy makers and individual airports, is an increasingly important matter and we hope that this inquiry can be used as a way in which debate on the issues raised in this submission can be given more serious attention.

21 November 2005



 
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