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Passenger pick-up at the airport. Salvador Salas
'Taxis and private hire services are all in the same boat against pirates at Malaga airport'
Transport

'Taxis and private hire services are all in the same boat against pirates at Malaga airport'

The Andalusian ride-hailing business association highlights the collaboration with law enforcement and authorities and corroborates the tension and problems with illegal operators

Chus Heredia

Friday, 7 June 2024, 15:14

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SUR has been reporting in recent weeks how the number of unlicensed 'pirate' taxi drivers at Malaga airport has increased, an issue that has led to greater police action. However drivers say it is not enough. The Malaga taxi sector has already reported threats and conflicts that often end in court. This is something that the ride-hailing sector (for example Uber) shares concerns about, while attempting to build bridges with the traditional taxis.

"We corroborate the threats that the taxi sector is talking about. We are in the same boat. What's more, we talk about pirates, not pirate taxis. Pirate taxis is a contradiction," Pablo García Trespalacios, president of the Andalusian ride-hailing services (known as VTC in Spanish) business association, told SUR.

The Local Police has activated a special surveillance operation against unauthorised provision of public transport services, including monitoring both ride-hailing services and taxis. This week, they have carried out 125 interventions, including 49 surveillance actions to detect unauthorised provision of passenger transport services.

Regarding the operation, Trespalacios expressed full cooperation with law enforcement and the administration. "We have an active role. It allows us to hold meetings with authorities, file complaints, and report illegal behaviour," he said, while noting that they represent the sector in the mobility council of Malaga and in the Andalusian taxi council.

"There has been an upturn since the beginning of the year. There are organised groups of around 20 people, plus those who operate on their own," he explained, while stressing that there are two types of pirates. On the one hand, there are those who leave their car in the private car park in the departures area of the airport, approach travellers and take them there. There are even those who enter the terminal or the surrounding area and use signs that say "Uber" or another ride-hailing brand. "These are the methods of operation that we have reported by providing data and number plates," he added.

Services booked in advance only

It is worth remembering that ride-hailing services can only access the airport when they have been booked in advance by a passenger, either through an application, by telephone or in person.

The sector is also unhappy with the payment of a fee to Aena (Spain's airport management and air navigation body) for the picking up and dropping off of passengers at the airport, as Trespalacios points out. "Last year we filed a complaint with the national securities market commission for breach of the law on market guarantees. Taxis do not pay for picking up passengers at the airport, but we as ride-hailing service operators pay. Users are penalised. Just to open the barrier is 1.40 euros and from then on it increases every ten minutes upwards. The amount for one hour is nine euros. We are going to incorporate the implementation at Granada airport this week, we are going to include it in the file," he said.

Bolt wins airport spot tender

Ride-hailing options at Malaga airport took another leap forward on Wednesday. Bolt joins Uber, which already has its own spot, in getting a reserved parking area at the airport, according to a statement issued by the Estonian company. The rest of the ride-hailing services will continue to operate in the pre-contracted area.

Bolt has won three tenders, for Barajas (Madrid), El Prat (Barcelona) and Malaga airports. Bolt will get an exclusive parking area in each terminal, with 28 spaces in Madrid, 26 in Barcelona and 15 in Malaga. In order to facilitate user visibility, Bolt's pick-up points will be signposted with the company's logo, and will have waiting areas in some terminals.

The partnership highlights Bolt's commitment to improving the travel experience at airports. In addition to the new points and logo signage, the company's app includes written and photo directions for users, ensuring a quick and hassle-free airport experience.

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