Hoards of visiting French fans for Six Nations rugby game put pressure on airport – and fury from coach operators over last-minute pick-up and set-down charge levy
Edinburgh Airport has been criticised after it announced plans to charge coach operators £200 for picking up and dropping off groups for the Six Nations rugby game between Scotland and France taking place at Murrayfield over the weekend of March 12 to 14 – only a month before the event.
CBW understands the first time coach operators were made aware of the £200 charge was on February 11 – a figure that is tantamount to a 2000% increase from the rates in place for a regular weekend.
A coach operator who wished to remain anonymous told CBW: “The French game is always well-attended, and because of its location, supporters fly in. The Italian game is not currently so popular with fans as far as the airport is concerned, so does not present a problem. By wanting to charge us £200 with hardly any notice – about a month – the airport is dealing the coach industry a severe blow. I can only hope CPT is successful with its meeting this week.”
An Edinburgh Airport spokesman said: “This is an incredibly busy day for us and our coach park, with its capacity of three spaces, simply cannot handle the expected 3,500 passengers and 72 or more coaches in a safe manner.
“We’ve been discussing options with tour operators and have secured support for an off-site option. All of these options were turned down in favour of a solution where the airport would have to clear an area of its car park. We have estimated the cost of this at £200 per coach.
“We derive no profit from it. This option will apply only if car parking space has to be utilised, but we hope this is now a last resort. We must be able to deal with these passengers in a safe and efficient way that does not impact our other passengers or the road network.”
CPT Scotland has been in discussion with the airport in the hope of alleviating problems for operators, drivers and passengers alike. Jeremy Tinsley, General Manager, CPT UK – Scotland told CBW: “On the February 16, Edinburgh Airport announced plans to charge all coaches £200 to collect/drop-off passengers for the Scotland vs France Six Nations Game during the weekend of March 12 to 14. CPT sought an early meeting with the airport to ask the airport to reconsider.
“An alternative solution was tabled using four additional coach bays at the airport, a section of Ingleston Park & Ride as staging area, and having marshals call coaches forward when passengers were ready to be collected.
“Disappointingly, at a subsequent meeting it became apparent that the four additional bays would not be available and that passengers would have to wait outside the airport whilst coaches were called forward. Given likely the weather at that time of year CPT could not support this proposal.
“An second alternative using shuttle buses has been suggested, however in its current form this would further reduce the already inadequate coach parking for normal business coaches.
“Given the lack of clear communication to date and the timescales involved, CPT believes Edinburgh Airport should reconsider reserving an area of the Terminal Surface car park for rugby related traffic at no charge to the operator.
“A further meeting is being arranged this week. We remain committed to working with the airport and will seek a workable solution that does not rely on hiking the charges for coach operators – an action that is entirely contrary to its commitment to sustainable transport within the airport’s Surface Access Strategy.”