Airport drivers protest outside the terminal. :: Salvador Salas
Authorities still hope they can prevent the strike called by Malaga city taxi drivers at the airport during Holy Week , potentially disrupting the holiday period for as many as half a million people.
At the request of the mayor of Malaga Francisco de la Torre Junta representative Manuel García Peláez said that a meeting would be held before the weekend to find a solution.
The city drivers are determined to stop taxis from other municipalities from picking up fares at the airport. A decree dating back to 1985 states that a driver from outside the city can collect passengers from the terminal if the service has been pre-booked.
The city taxis say that leaves only the short runs for them and that 120 out of 180 drivers working at the airport have little to do. The Junta de Andalucía has agreed to a meeting in April at which it has promised to propose a solution, however the drivers are not prepared to wait until then.
“Our fellow drivers from the rest of the province have been working at the airport for 27 years and as a result we have lost 70 per cent of the good fares, that is, the long distance runs. The decree is unfair and with time our licences have stopped being profitable,” said the spokesman for self-employed drivers, José Antonio Maté.
Meanwhile the taxi drivers in Marbella are determined to defend their right to work at the airport. Víctor Vázquez is the president of the Marbella taxi association Taxi-Sol.
“This is a senseless strike. The decree clearly states that taxis from around the province can pick up passengers with pre-booked services, and we will continue to do that.
“I can also point out that our services make up no more than five per cent of the total,” he said.
Vázquez also said that the real enemies of all the drivers were the illegal, unregistered cars picking up passengers at the airport as if they were taxis.
“We need to unite” to fight against this unauthorised practice, he added.
Earlier this week the mayor of Marbella Ángeles Muñoz called for the Malaga taxi drivers to abandon their strike plans for next week at the airport to avoid damage to the tourism industry. At a meeting on Monday to coordinate taxi services for the Easter holidays the drivers expressed concerns for the strike called by their Malaga colleagues.
“The safety of these professionals must be guaranteed when next week they go to pick up their pre-booked passengers at the airport,” said Muñoz who has passed on her concerns to the central government office in Malaga.
“The airport is everyone’s, not just the city’s,” said Víctor Vázquez.
The strike is due to start at 6am on Monday morning and continue until the same time the following Monday, April 1st.
According to figures provided by the airport authority Aena, as from Wednesday it is expected that an average of more than 40,000 passengers a day will arrive at the airport.