PRIVATE hire drivers in Bradford have condemned Leeds Bradford Airport bosses for a "ridiculous" parking price increase.

Drivers now have to pay £3 instead of £2 to drop off or pick up outside the main terminal building for up to 30 minutes - a 50 per cent hike.

The airport defended the rise by pointing to a free 60-minute parking zone it has a "three-to-four" minute walk away.

But Mazar Iqbal, of Hackney Carriage Owners and Drivers Association, said: "It is absolutely ridiculous. I go to drop off - and in and out for £3 is ridiculous. You are just popping in and popping out.

"A drop off is about two minutes, a pick up is about five minutes. If they allowed us just five minutes in and out, that would be fair play."

Mr Iqbal also said drivers' "hands are tied" because customers were asking to be dropped off on the entrance road outside the terminal to avoid paying the charge.

"When you drop outside, that is against the law," said Mr Iqbal. "And they (the airport) are making drivers do that.

"We understand we cannot drop them there, but that is what the customer wants. Our hands are tied."

He continued: "They should give ten minutes to taxis and five minutes to everyone else.

"They are forcing us to drop people off outside. I will get the points and get fined for that, but if a customer asks to be dropped off outside what can you do?"

Nadeem Ahmed, of the Independent Private Hire Association of Bradford, was surprised about the rise. He said: "That is a bit high and I thought it was high to start with. It will affect our members, no doubt about it.

"These costs are normally passed onto customers, so customers will probably have to shoulder it.

"I think it is totally unjustified and I think most of the customers we pick up would think it is extortionate and rather unfair.

"What is also annoying is they seem to have patrols on the road so that people do not park up on there for even a second.

"£3 for half an hour does not seem fair."

Shabir Ahmed, of Keighley and Bradford Taxi Drivers' Association, said: "It is ridiculous. I think it should be free. Bradford Council should do something about it.

"It falls on the customers again."

He added: "They should not charge anyone for just dropping off - it should be free. We are giving them customers.

"Why should you have to pay for just dropping off, for between a couple of minutes and five minutes?

"Bradford Council needs to take a stand. No-one speaks up for Joe Bloggs in town. Perhaps people need to boycott it, then they will know."

A spokesman for the airport said: "Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) has introduced a dedicated 100-space 'Free One Hour Parking Zone' located in the premium Mid-Stay Car Park area a short three-to-four minutes walk from the main terminal entrance.

"The facility is clearly signposted on entering the airport, and benefits from an upgraded walkway for pedestrians and a dedicated and convenient new entrance from Whitehouse Lane.

"The 'Free One Hour Parking Zone' provides all passengers with the option to drop off and pick up free of charge for stays of up to 60 minutes. Normal car park charges apply for longer stays. Full details of this and all our official car parks are on our website"