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Friday 23 August 2019

Taxi chiefs want airport luggage fee introduced to attract more drivers

An empty taxi rank at Dublin Airport
An empty taxi rank at Dublin Airport
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Pick-up and luggage charges should be reintroduced at Dublin Airport to encourage more taxi drivers to provide services at the gateway, according to the Irish Taxi Drivers' Federation.

The call by the federation's president, Joe Herron, comes as Dublin Airport launches a consultation process aimed at improving the frequently criticised taxi service there.

Mr Herron said that any shortages of taxis at the airport, particularly during the evenings, is usually because drivers can get more fares working in the city centre.

"If there is work in the city centre, it is not advantageous to travel out to the airport," said Mr Herron.

He suggested that a pick-up fee could be €2 per passenger, for instance, and that a luggage fee could be introduced at 50 cent per bag, for example.

A €1.50 airport pick-up charge and 70 cent luggage fee were abolished by the then taxi regulator in 2006, sparking protests by taxi drivers.

A spokesman for Dublin Airport, which is operated by the semi-State DAA, said it would not pre-judge the outcome of the consultation process.

He said the consultation is inviting views from stakeholders including licence holders, taxi firms, transport and tourism bodies, business groups, consumer representatives, disability groups and other users.

"There are some sectoral issues that are affecting the provision of taxis generally at peak times in Dublin and these are also likely to be discussed within the remit of the consultation," he added.

Services such as a premium product, ride-sharing, and even a minimum fare are all possible outcomes from the consultation.

"We want to work collaboratively with all stakeholders to deliver an improvement in the overall taxi product at the airport," said the spokesman.

Dublin Airport has experienced a surge in passenger numbers in recent years. Last year, 31.5 million passengers used the gateway, compared to just under 30 million in 2017.

Mr Herron pointed out that on top of their normal running costs - which the National Transport Authority reckons are about €23,500 a year for an experienced taxi driver in a standard vehicle - taxi drivers must pay €440 a year to secure a permit to operate at Dublin Airport.

There are currently about 1,450 permit holders. On a typical day, between 800 and 900 permit holders operate at the airport.

Not being able to pay by credit or debit card is the single biggest gripe among taxi passengers at Dublin Airport. Queues and poor taxi journey experiences are next highest on the list, according to a survey by the DAA.

Irish Independent

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