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History of Off Airport Parking

History and operation of Off Airport Car Parking
The growth in airport travel over the past 20 years has seen an increase from 20 million in 1981 to 114 million in 2001and 240 million by 2006. Whilst the airports have increased the amount of parking available, because of the constraints of land within the airport complex the airports are now unable to meet demand. Also due to their virtual monopoly position, the price of parking has risen significantly and these two factors led to the establishment of off airport car parking companies.

In the early days owners of land near to the airport started a lot of the airport parking companies and it is fair to say that these early operations were fairly basic both in the quality of land used and the service provided. As with everything the customer dictated that these companies became more sophisticated and the off airport car operators of today bear little resemblance to these early companies who virtually threw a fence around a piece of land and waited for the customer to turn up with marketing confined to word of mouth.

Security
All car parks, which we are associated with, have 24 hour manned security and high security fencing. The Chief Police Officers Association has accredited most of the car parks for security, which requires a rigorous annual inspection and CCTV is now widely used.

Technology
The internet and use of data bases has transformed the industry. Prior to computers the number of cars in the car park was calculated on a manual basis which when you consider that cars are arriving and departing every day at different times and with varying lengths of stay was a nightmare to calculate. To add to this customers would be forward booking for their summer holidays as far back as January and a considerable number of cancellations would arise.

The car parks in those days virtually hand counted at the beginning of the week and then simply added and subtracted for the coming week. Unfortunately outgoing flights pick up your returning customers and whilst figures at midnight may balance inevitably at stages throughout the day cars were left in lanes until they could be parked away later in the day.

Now days computers can take into account of traffic flows on virtually an hourly basis although delayed flights can ruin the best-laid plans. September 11th placed enormous pressures on the car parks with thousand of holidaymakers unable to return to the country from the USA for many days. Due to the strain our car park at Manchester had to place cars outside the compound under 24- hour security.

Damage to Vehicles
Customers using airport car parks are vulnerable to the capabilities of other members of the public. Cars are continually arriving and departing the airport car park and clearly the airport cannot be held responsible for damage to a car or even theft of a vehicle.
Most off airport car parks; park the cars themselves and that results in a substantial reduction in accidents.

The staff are used to parking cars in tight spaces and with no other movements to worry about damage is minimal. Regrettably at Liverpool airport recently a customer was killed when a car thief gained access to his vehicle outside arrivals and ran over him.

In terms of price and security it is no wonder that many customers now prefer to use off airport car parks where regular travelers get to know the staff.

By David Cook

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