Thousands of arriving French rugby fans will have to take shuttle buses to their coaches at Edinburgh Airport today after parking charges near the terminal were hiked to £200.
A compromise deal has been agreed that coach operators will use the Ingliston park and ride site instead, which is nearly one mile away.
We will be welcoming our French friends by employing eight extra French speakers”AIRPORT SPOKESMAN
It follows a row over the airport’s plan to provide coach parking in a car park beside the terminal at £200 a vehicle.
This compares with the previous £5-£10 fee for using the small coach park nearby.
Airport officials said the coach park had been overwhelmed by more than 70 coaches collecting fans at previous Scotland-France rugby internationals, creating chaos on the roads.
However, one coach industry source described the deal as “not ideal for either party”.
They said: “If the weather is poor, then the passengers who are being ferried by minibus to coaches parked a bit away won’t be best pleased.”
Another source said: “The £200 charge was dropped. For the busy arrivals on Saturday, there are now shuttle buses to the park and ride where all the coaches will be parked.
“I would be delighted to comment for a follow-up story should things go absolutely pear-shaped.”
The plans are set out in a “chief executive’s directive” from airport boss Gordon Dewar, which has been circulated to coach firms.
It stated: “Shuttle buses (four in total) should report to the park and ride.
“Once the first flight arrives, the buses will be called down to the terminal and should access the forecourt and park at bus stances B and C.
“Should passengers arrive and the shuttle buses are in transit, a waiting area is available on the plaza and passengers will be called forward when the shuttles become available. All coaches collecting passengers from rugby charter flights MUST go to the park and ride.
“Any coach who attempt to park outwith this area will be moved by the police.”
The Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT), which represents coach operators, said it remained to be seen if the new plan would work.
CPT Scotland general manager Jeremy Tinsley said: “Following engagement with the airport, a compromise agreement has been reached to enable coach operators to service the airport without the imposition of inflated pick-up charges.
“This will be reviewed after the event to ascertain whether it has been successful or if further discussions are required.
“CPT will continue to stress the importance of encouraging the use of sustainable transport modes, including bus and coach, to and from main transport hubs such as Edinburgh Airport.”
An Edinburgh Airport spokesman said: “We are pleased our commitment to resolving this matter with the coach operators resulted in a mutually agreeable plan.
“Also, we will be welcoming our French friends to Scotland by employing eight additional French speakers to help in the airport terminal.
“We will be communicating digital messages over the weekend for arriving and departing passengers in both French and English.”