HEATHROW is to introduce a £5 passenger drop-off charge for all travellers arriving by car or taxi.
The airport is making a desperate attempt to claw back more than £2billion lost during the pandemic.
The new fee comes into force from October and will apply to all vehicles entering the areas outside the terminals.
Blue badge holders and emergency vehicles will be exempt, but taxis and private hire cars will have to cough up.
The money must be paid online or over the phone.
Number plate reading cameras will be used to enforce the rule instead of ticket barriers, and Parking Charge Notices will be issued to people who fail to pay.
The policy is in line with charges at Gatwick and Manchester airports which also have a £5 drop-off fee.
It will bring in as much as £100million a year, which bosses admit will help the airport recover after losing about £5million a day during the pandemic.
But it is yet another cost for holidaymakers to add on to their trips, and something else to worry about on top of Covid tests and locator forms.
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Announcing the decision, Heathrow bosses said: "From October 2021, Heathrow will be introducing a charge for vehicles dropping off passengers at its terminal forecourts.
"A £5 charge per visit will apply to use the designated drop off zones located directly outside the airport terminals.
"We have always said that we would consider introducing a form of road user charging and several other approaches to improve air quality and reduce congestion at Heathrow in our 2.0 Sustainability Blueprint and in the Airport Expansion Consultation documentation.
"This charge forms part of our updated Surface Access strategy and sustainable travel plans."
A spokesperson added that the plans were updated after reviews were conducted in light of "the collapse in passenger numbers experienced due to the impacts of the pandemic".
They also said the drop-off charge replaces the airport's previous plans to introduce a Heathrow Ultra-Low Emissions Zone (HULEZ) by 2022 and a Heathrow Vehicle Access Charge (HVAC) ahead of the opening of the third runway, which would have incurred a £10 to £15 charge.
Heathrow car parks will remain available, and normal charges will apply.
The new rules will also not impact passenger pick up, which will continue via the car parks.
A free drop-off option is available. Passengers can arrive at Heathrow's long stay car parks where they can take a free bus transfer to the terminal.
Taxi unions have rallied against the new fee, arguing that its drivers should be exempt.
Dave Lawrie from the National Private Hire and Taxi Association told MailOnline he understood why airports implement such charges but added: "With the Covid situation, I think our industry should be exempt."
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