Heathrow is exploring a proposal to implement a forecourt access charge (FAC) for vehicles in late 2021 to prevent a car-led airport recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The charge, expected to be around £5, is part of several revisions to a surface access plan as a result of the near collapse in passenger numbers and £1.5 billion losses incurred in 2020.
Gatwick unveiled similar plans in October.
Heathrow expects fewer cars on the road due to reduced passenger demand, but concerns around using public transport due to the pandemic present a new challenge moving forward.
Responding to this, the new charge will replace plans for a Heathrow Ultra Low Emissions Zone (HULEZ) announced in May 2019.
However, future emissions reductions schemes could be considered, the airport added.
The revised plan ensures Heathrow remains able to meet its long-term public transport goals and, other measures, including HULEZ, can still be implemented if needed.
Consultation has begun with stakeholders around the details of the new proposal, including how the FAC will be administered, with details expected to be finalised in 2021.
The charge will apply to all vehicles entering the forecourts of terminals, although some exceptions will apply such as blue badge holders and emergency vehicles.
The full list of exemptions has yet to be finalised.
Heathrow director of surface access, Tony Caccavone, said: “The impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic have been severe, especially on the aviation industry with Heathrow passenger numbers down over 80 per cent and the business losing £5 million a day.
“These changes will help us to protect the business financially and save jobs in the short term, whilst also allowing us to stay on track for our long-term goals of providing safe, sustainable and affordable transport options into the future.”