EMA commits to rapid drop-off improvements


East Midlands Airport (EMA) will make improvements to its rapid drop-off so that passengers who choose to use it have a better experience.

The rapid drop-off (RDO) is one of several car parking options available to drivers at the airport alongside other set-down and pick-up alternatives such as one-hour’s free parking in Long Stay 2 and 30 minutes parking for £4 in Short Stay 1. The RDO is ideal for those with heavy bags, young families and people with reduced mobility because of its proximity to the airport’s main entrance. However, disabled passengers with a Blue Badge can park for 30 minutes free in Short Stay 1.

Recently, the airport introduced new waiting times in the RDO to help ease traffic congestion in and around the area by reducing waiting times to 5 minutes for £2. After careful consideration, these were reversed as a number of people were unable to leave the RDO in under five minutes.

The airport remains committed to resolving traffic capacity issues and the infrastructure does need further investment and improvement. Options being considered include:

- upgrading the existing barriers

- installing additional barriers

- adding more exit lanes

The airport has already begun increasing staff presence at peak times to assist with passenger queries and to help improve traffic flow at the RDO.

EMA is at its busiest in the early hours of the morning when passengers arrive for 6am to 9am departures. These are the most popular flights for holiday-makers who want to get away early to their destinations, making the most of their time abroad. In the summer months, a second wave of passengers arrive for afternoon flights from about 11am onwards to catch 1pm to 3pm departures. Infrastructure improvements will help ease the strain on the RDO particularly at these times of day.

As with most UK airports, passengers being dropped off at the forecourt are subject to a charge. This is designed to encourage alternative, more sustainable transport options while reducing congestion and traffic jams at the airport and surrounding roads. Money raised from drop-off and other car parking charges is invested into the airport’s operational costs. Income raised from all of the airport’s commercial activity - retail, car parking and food and drink - also help keep flight prices lower for passengers.

To help pay for future infrastructure improvements, on Monday 24 June the rapid drop-off tariff will change from £2 for 10 minutes to £3 for 10 minutes. The amended tariff will allow people to wait for 10 minutes giving sufficient time for all users to get out of their cars from their vehicles to the check-in hall, while raising funds for future investment.

Karen Smart, East Midlands Airport’s Managing Director, says: “We recently made changes to the waiting times in rapid drop-off with the best intentions of resolving traffic flow issues which cause road congestion across the airport site. We still need to address this problem as passengers want to enter and leave the airport easily. However, we listened to customer feedback and many drivers felt that 5 minutes drop-off wasn’t long enough.

“It is clear that the overall passenger experience of RDO can only be improved if we make some changes to the infrastructure and staff it better. But this comes at a cost and therefore we need to raise the funds to pay for it. The new price is also designed to encourage more passengers to consider other parking options as well as using public transport such as the SkyLink bus service.”