The cost of airport parking could be cut in response to evidence of excessive charges imposed on holidaymakers.
A review of road access to airports will be carried out by the aviation watchdog, the Civil Aviation Authority, to ensure that travellers receive value for money.
A study last year found that Britain’s airports were the most expensive in the world for parking, with some travellers paying up to £315 a week.
There is also anger at aggressive “no-stopping” policies at airports that have hit motorists with £100 penalties for pausing for a matter of seconds to read signs or pick up relatives.
Anthony Eskinazi, founder of the JustPark parking website, said: “We’ve long known that airport parking is vastly overpriced . . . When people are paying more for their airport parking than their flights, something needs to change.”
Most airports subcontract parking operations to third-party providers that typically charge travellers on a sliding scale depending how close they park to the terminal.
London City airport charges £315 to leave a vehicle for a week in its long-stay car park, although the cost drops to £128 for those booking online. Standard long-stay parking at Heathrow costs £175 a week, though the airport offers a £31.43 winter discount price. The CAA said that its review of surface access to airports would cover parking to ensure that operators “compete fairly and effectively, resulting in satisfaction and value for money for the consumer”.
However, the review is also unlikely to cover rail links to airports despite concern at the price of some dedicated train services. The Heathrow Express — the airport-owned rail service linking to Paddington Station — is Britain’s most expensive train journey at £27 for a journey of 15 miles when a ticket is bought onboard.
Robert Goodwill, the aviation minister, recently criticised the service, suggesting that travellers were effectively pushed towards it rather than cheaper alternatives. Addressing the Commons transport select committee, he said: “If you arrive at Heathrow, it is not made quite clear to you that you could get a National Express coach or an underground ticket. They are very keen to sell you tickets on the Heathrow Express. Part of choice is having good information on which to base it.”
The CAA also announced plans to set up a new independent watchdog to rule on issues such as late flights and lost baggage after claims that airlines were failing to compensate passengers for poor services. It said that an independent ombudsman — modelled on Ofgem, which regulates the gas and electricity markets — would be established later this year if airlines failed to sign up voluntarily to their own “dispute resolution” body.
“Our research suggests that around a quarter of consumers were dissatisfied with the information and assistance provided when problems occurred before or during their journey; and that a significant proportion — around 40 per cent — have difficulties seeking redress when things go wrong,” the strategic plan states.
A spokesman for the Airport Operators Association said: “Without these charges airports would have to levy higher landing fees on airlines and this would lead to higher air fares.”