Airport parking cheaper for plane than a car

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It can be cheaper to park a plane at an airport than a car, new research suggests.

A study of 10 of Britain’s busiest airports shows that it could be cheaper to leave a light aircraft for a day at an airport than it would be to leave a car for the same amount of time.

The report cites Heathrow Terminal 5 as the most expensive, with a rate of £51.80 for a car to stay for 24 hours in the short-stay car park although a Telegraph Travel query showed that the long-stay car park would cost £17.90 for the same time if booked in advance.

Manchester Airport charges £35 for a full day in a short-stay car park while a six-seater light aircraft would cost just £21 for the same period.

At Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport, the difference in parking costs was even wider, the study suggested, citing £10.72 as the price for a light aircraft compared to £39.99 for a car.

At Edinburgh airport it costs £23.50 to park a car and £11.90 to park a plane for 24 hours.

At Glasgow airport it is £21 for a car, and £11.52 for a plane. At Birmingham it is £22.50 for a car and £10.80 for a plane, while at Bristol it is £25 for a car and £17 for a plane.

Only at Luton is plane parking more expensive than car parking, at £38.88 against £36 for a car.

Russell Craig of Manchester (Frankfurt: A0ETDJ - news) airport told the Independent, which conducted the study: "Years ago airports made all their money from the planes. Now at Manchester, aviation income makes up less than half of our revenues. To be able to keep investing, you've got to find new revenue streams and some of that is car parking. But pre-booking is the way to save money. The turn-up prices are what they are."

Paul Watters of the AA said: "These are incredible findings that sadly may not come as a surprise to drivers who often have to pay eye-watering sums for parking in an airport car park. Drivers will probably look enviously at parked aircraft wondering just how it can be that motorists pay more when the space they are using is much less."

Unsurprisingly, fees for parking larger aircraft were found to be much higher, with a daily charge of almost £4,000 to park the Airbus A380 the world’s biggest aircraft at Manchester Airport.

However, planes can often park at airports for up to four hours without incurring any charges while motorists often have to pay “drop and go” charges to pick up new arrivals (£2 for 20 minutes at Birmingham, £2.20 for 15 minutes at Edinburgh).

A study carried out earlier this year by Nick Trend, Telegraph Travel’s consumer editor, suggested that the key to finding cheaper airport car parking was to book in advance.

A seven-day stay in August at the Heathrow Terminal 5 long-stay car park would cost £68 if booked now, for example. In contrast, it would cost £125.30 for the same amount of time for holidaymakers starting their stay today without booking in advance.

The Telegraph research also suggested better car parking deals can sometimes be found through “airport extras” agency web sites such as Aph.com or Holidayextras.co.uk, with savings of more than 10 per cent available in some instances.