The kiss-and-fly ritual at airports is going to cost £5 at Gatwick airport in 2021. The airport says that the fee will cut down on traffic and reduce carbon emissions.

The reality is more likely to be a way of earning revenue to make up for the huge losses the airport has had to shoulder in 2020. In the first six months of 2020, it lost £321m – equivalent to £1,225 per minute between January and June.

Gatwick won’t be the first to make a charge. Luton airport has been doing it for years and charges £4 for 10 minutes and £1 per minute thereafter. Manchester, normally the third-busiest, has a fee of £3 for five minutes and £4 for 10 minutes. Stansted charges £5 for a drop-off lasting 10 minutes or less – increasing to £25 if over 15 minutes – but allows 30 minutes use of the short-stay car park free of charge for pick-ups.

Heathrow airport still does not charge a fee.

Chief Commercial Officer Jonathan Pollard said:

“Gatwick has just gone through the most challenging period in its history and this new drop off charging scheme will give us a new revenue stream to aid recovery from the COVID-19 crisis and ultimately help us continue as an important provider of economic prosperity and jobs across the region.

“Gatwick is also committed to promoting sustainable travel and this new scheme will encourage passengers to consider more sustainable transport options, including public transport services or parking options at the airport, which only involves two single car trips, compared to two return trips when dropping off.”

The alternative to the kiss and fly fee is to drop off or pick up passengers from the long stay car parks where there is two hours’ free parking. From where a free shuttle bus operates to transport passengers to the terminals.