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Donna Gee - Spain's Grumpy Old Gran

SHARE THE MOANS AND GROANS OF AN IRRITABLE EXPAT BRITISH JOURNALIST

Need and greed: How UK and Spain airport parking charges compare
03 April 2011

BRITAIN'S FLY BOYS ARE

RIPPING MOTORISTS OFF

Car-park charges in the UK are enough to drive any motorist insane - and the rip-off boys are getting greedier and greedier. Particularly those who have a captive audience.

Like airports.

I returned to Spain last week after a three-week trip to Manchester knowing I'd be flying into Alicante's new state-of-the-art terminal, an amazing edifice which cost the cash-strapped Spanish well over £500 million in English money.

To be precise, he Madrid government invested €628.67 million on expansion works which will double the airport's capacity and cater for up to 20 million passengers per year.

When my daughter Lisa met me on my arrival in Manchester, she paid a whopping £12 to leave her car in the Terminal One car-park for two hours. (well, I forked out the money, actually - that's what parents are for after all).

Fortunately Lisa didn't get carried away with emotion and hug me for an hour when we said our goodbyes last week or another £8 would have been clamped into the jaws of Manchester's money monster.

Instead, she just dropped me off and vamoosed, leaving me to discover my flight was being delayed for well over an hour for technical reasons.

We eventually arrived at Alicante half an hour late and by the time I plonked myself down in my friend Valerie's car, it had been parked in the airport's new 2,700-space multi-storey facility for an hour and a half.

At Manchester prices, that would have meant a fee of £8 just to pick up a passenger who had already paid a fistful in airport taxes as part of her air fare.

In the event, Val's 1 hour 38 minute stay cost me 2 euros and 95 cents. That's less than one-third of Manchester's rip-off tariff - at an airport whose owners must be desperate to recoup its massive investment as quickly as possible.

Exactly the same charge, based on a minute-by-minute reading which equates to just 70 centimos for the first half an hour, is levied at other major Spanish airports, including Madrid's main Barajas facility, Malaga, Barcelona and Valencia.

How refreshing that a nation in desperate financial straits should put the passenger before profit, unlike the greedy '' fleece 'em for as much as we can'' attitude in the UK.

When my sister flew to Manchester from her home in the Middle East recently, fellow passengers on a delayed Jet2.com flight consoled her by insisting the plane was ALWAYS late in order to ensure that family and friends had to park up for at least an hour and incur that obligatory £8 fee.

I understand that Stansted charge similar prices to Manchester, whilst Heathrow's initial £2.50 charge goes up to £4.30 after just half an hour (or at least it used to, though it may well have increased since those figures were reported).

Perhaps that's why Spain is in a worse economic pickle than Britain...the Zapatero government prefer to remain needy rather than labelled as greedy.

So carry on with the overcharging, Britain. Enjoy squeezing the public to the pip.

I'll continue to chill out on the cheap here on the Costa Lot-less.



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