The huge queue for taxis at Malaga Airport. / MIGUE FERNÁNDEZ

Taxi strike leaves hundreds waiting at Malaga Airport and train stations

From 11am on Thursday practically the entire registered fleet on the Costa del Sol stopped working for two hours, their second strike against private hire cabs

ANABEL NIÑO / SUSANA ZAMORA

There was tension and unrest during local taxi drivers' second day of stoppage this Thursday 22 September, which affected mainly Malaga Airport and local train stations.

From 11am practically the entire registered fleet on the Costa del Sol went on strike for two hours in protest at plans that would allow private hire companies such as Uber, Cabify and Bolt, known as VTCs, to operate within towns from 1 October.

From that date Spanish government rules would mean they could only pick up passengers crossing from one town to another, although the Andalusian regional authority has announced regulations to allow the shorter-distance services to continue.

"Our taxi service has always coexisted with VTCs; they have their pre-booking services, and we have our urban and interurban services. Now they are invading our field of work with illegal applications, and to make matters worse, the Junta de Andalucía has published a draft which makes it clear that they are not going to regulate them and that it is therefore favourable to VTCs," said Pepe Durán, one of the taxi drivers who took part in the strike.

Unlike Thursday last week, when a skeleton service operated, this week only essential journeys were provided, such as transporting disabled passengers, families with young children and the elderly.

At the María Zambrano railway station in Malaga city, one agitated customer asked a taxi driver, “Whoever wants to stop and pick up should be able to do so, right?”

There were also some tense moments among the taxi drivers themselves, as some of them arrived with the intention of picking up passengers despite the stoppage, some out of ignorance, others because they were not in favour of stopping and losing two hours of work.

“The problem is as much for them as it is for us. We respect their opinion. It's their job and their point of view. But if everything goes well, it will be thanks to our struggle,” said Durán.

At 1pm the fleet resumed its usual service, picking up customers who had waited for about 30 minutes at taxi ranks to be taken to their destinations. For the moment, the sector does not rule out continuing with new protests which are threatened to be bigger and louder.

Another stoppage is planned for next Tuesday, 27 September, at the airport, at nighttime.