The introduction of a parking fee at the airport will raise £40,000 a year says Minister for Infrastructure David Cretney MHK.
‘It is a drop in the ocean compared to the overall airport deficiency,’ said Mr Cretney.
Free parking at the airport is set to end this Sunday, as reported in the Isle of Man Examiner earlier this week, with a £1 fee being introduced for stays of under one hour.
Objections to the charge have to be received in writing by Sunday.
‘I think what I said about there being no consultation on the matter has been misinterpreted,’ added Mr Cretney.
‘We have followed the correct process when it comes to the traffic regulations.
‘We informed the public and invited objections, but in the regulations all that is required for us to do is inform the public, no consultation is required in general to introduce this,’ he said.
‘Perhaps in retrospect what we should have done is issue a public statement.’
Asked about the possibility of similar fees being introduced for parking on the promenade and other areas of the island in the future, Mr Cretney said: ‘It was highway department officials who mentioned the promenade and the possiblity of a fee for parking there. The promenade was seen as a test bed by them, but I am totally against that and it won’t happen. There are no plans for fees like this to be introdced anywhere else.’
He also said in a statement released yesterday: ‘A couple of years ago comments were made that if the airport was a commercial airport anywhere else, the taxpayer subsidy could be reduced by about £2million.
‘That’s because airport income is made by parking charges and retail sales. In the case of the latter, this is because in most airports people are required to be checked in a long time in advance of the flight and have nothing else to do.’
In 2010 airport director Ann Reynolds said that a saving of £2million could be made at the airport but later explained that this would involve a change to staff terms and conditions, and that many other things such as information services, car parking, taxis and retail income all had to be considered within that figure.
Mr Cretney went on to say: ‘The proposed £1 would be for one hour in the short stay or two hours in the long stay car park. There already exists a period of time before charges commence in order that customers can get to and from the payment machines.
‘This will be 15 minutes in the future if the charge is put in place.
‘The argument that people will be charged if there is no parking available is incorrect. The £1 charge would not cost more to administer.
‘We have applied the requirements of law exactly as they should be - under Section 11 of the Road Traffic Regulations Act 1985,’ he added.
‘It is presently an extremely difficult time in all departments as we strive to continue to make substantial financial savings to meet our present economic position.
‘Having said all that, anyone who knows me will known I am listening and reading comments from the public on this matter in a genuine way.’
The £40,000 figure amounts to just over the average salary of one baggage handler, who it was reported last year were earning an average of £34,500 a year, including overtime.
Mr Cretney said at that time that there were 34 full-time baggage handlers, which was four short of what was required.