Morgan Tait

Morgan Tait is the NZ Herald's consumer affairs reporter.

D-Day for angry airport taxi drivers

Answer to taxi ultimatum to be known at 9am but executives say business not as bad as some claim.

Taxi drivers want the minimum fare raised from $20 to $35. Photo / APN
Taxi drivers want the minimum fare raised from $20 to $35. Photo / APN

Angry taxi drivers will consider blocking access to Auckland Airport and inner city streets if their demands, which include raising minimum fares, are not met by airport executives today.

Two of the Auckland Taxi Association's five demands were met during a heated, three-hour meeting with the airport last week after tensions sparked a strike this month - but a response to the remaining three is due at 9am.

The strike - in which 100 drivers walked off the job after a disagreement between a security guard and a driver - was just the tip of deeper issues cited by the ATA.

Drivers were concerned that the changes to taxi-rank locations, especially at the international terminal, meant they were missing out on fares and now struggled to make a living.

At last week's meeting, ATA spokesman Manmohan Singh presented five demands to the airport: moving the rank where taxi companies pay for designated spaces so other taxis have better access to customers; improving relations with security guards; upgraded toilet, water and shade facilities; moving shuttle services; and increasing the basic price for short fares from $20 to $35.

Auckland Airport retail and commercial general manager Richard Barker said facilities would be upgraded and security services were being reviewed, but the company had asked for extra time to work out the remaining demands that the groups did not agree on.

Mr Singh said a range of protest options were being considered by increasingly angry drivers.

"We are working on different strategies. It might not be a simple strike which you people are thinking we might pull off, it could be someone trying to burn themselves ... we are doing quite a few things together but want to wait for the outcome of the meeting ... although we are pretty sure it will be negative."

Mr Barker said analysis of data since the last meeting only cemented his view that business was not as bad as drivers claimed.

"I am going in with some options, but my view is they have been rigid in what they want."

- NZ Herald

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