Octogenarian traveller recounts airport parking challenge
For one elderly couple flying from Gibraltar recently, the experience proved a nightmare because of the absence of a most basic facility: a long-term car park for their vehicle.
David Bowers detailed his complaint in a two-page letter to airport managers, stating that Gibraltar was, to his knowledge “…the only international airport in the civilised world without a long term car park.”
The octogenarian was traveling with his wife last week to London, a birthday gift from one of his sons.
But when he arrived at the airport car park, he was told he could not leave his car for more than a few hours and there was no long-term parking.
“I had to drop my wife off at the airport with two small cases before setting off on a tour of Gibraltar to find one [a long-term car park]. I didn’t succeed,” he said.
Mr Bowers finally found parking at the Devil’s Tower Road car park and “galloped back” across the runway in order to check in.
He had been advised “in a very polite helpful manner” about free parking near the beach or across the border in Spain, but found those options unsatisfactory.
“Please don't advise me that I should park in La Línea. This, particularly for the elderly, is not a solution either. Nor should a Gibraltar airport be advising customers to park across the border,” he said.
He also noted that some staff members “let it slip that not only was there no long term parking for customers, there was virtually no parking for airport staff either.”
Returning from his London visit, Mr and Mrs Bowers had to cross the runway to the carpark only to find £20 notes were not accepted by the machine.
“I paid the controllers in the car park £34 for the two day parking as they were able to put my parking ticket through their system and take the cash,” he said.
Mr Bowers, who usually uses Malaga airport, also highlighted that he will be using Gibraltar Airport again in October, as he booked flights prior to this recent visit.
“This time we will have heavier luggage. The thought of lugging everything across the runway and paying upwards of £80 for parking our car for five days in a high rise fills me with despair,” he said.
Mr Bowers set out his grievances in an impassioned letter to airport terminal director Terence Lopez.
But Mr Lopez is not, in fact, responsible for car parking at the terminal, which falls under Gibraltar Car Parks remit.
However, he passed the letter on to Government and advised Mr Bowers of this.
The Government told Mr Bowers that much of the area around the airport terminal is scheduled for further development and some of these developments will provide many additional parking spaces nearby. It does not state if this will be long-term or short-term parking.
It acknowledged that these “plans do not provide solutions to Mr Bowers’ immediate problems but, in his letter, he makes it clear that he was informed, in a courteous manner, of the various parking options that were available to him,” it said.
Mr and Mrs Bowers reside in Spain and states he does not disparage Gibraltar and it features firmly in his past.
“I spent over three years in Gibraltar as a NAAFI District Manager, living in the Red House on Devil’s Tower Road, back in the days when the border was closed. Thoroughly enjoyable. I even remember flying “Yogi Bear” from Gibraltar to Tangier; one of the pilots used to call to my house - sometimes shortly after landing - to attend Bridge classes I held, free of charge, for all interested prospective players! That’s going back a bit,” he said.
“I also returned several years later to work with Paul Savignon, before helping to set up Clerical Medical International, later heading up the branch until it closed its operation.”
“I know Gibraltar well and have many fond memories, particularly in those early days with a closed border. At that time, I belonged to the Dockyard theatre group, competing against six or seven other amateur dramatic societies in the annual competition, judged by “experts” from the UK. I did not tread the boards myself but as a NAAFI district manager I ensured the theatre group bar made a profit,” he added.