Heathrow Airport has RUN OUT of devices that allow London taxi drivers access to its in demand airport terminal taxi ranks.
Heathrow Airport is home to London’s biggest rank, with up to 500 cabs able to ‘put on’ at any one time. Taxi drivers wishing to service the airport are required to register themselves with the airport in return for a device called a ‘tag’ that allows access to the feeder park to the airport ranks.
In 2019 London Heathrow announced a ‘one in, one out’ policy for new taxi drivers wanting to obtain access tags to the airport’s ranks.
The current policy means that new drivers are only able to join the Heathrow taxi rank and receive a tag device when an existing driver closes their account at Heathrow.
Since then drivers entering the taxi industry must be placed on a waiting list and must hope for drivers to hand back tag devices to allow new or willing cabbies the opportunity to work the Heathrow airport.
A shortage of devices has seen cabbies who currently hold a tag device struggling to replace ageing tags which no longer function.
Many cabbies prior to 2019 held a Heathrow tag when no limits were imposed on the off chance that they might work Heathrow.
Sam Houston, Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA) Senior Rep, said in TAXI Newspaper: “Britain’s busiest airport now finds itself in the unenviable position of requiring airlines to cancel flights – essentially turning away business, and, more importantly, ruining the cherished holiday plans of thousands of customers, who might choose a different option next time around.
“What you won’t have read about in the press, is the chaotic administration of the Terminal Drop-off Charge (TDOC) by contractor APCOA. You also won’t have read how HAL (Heathrow Airport Limited) has managed to completely run out of tags for entry into the Taxi Feeder Park, meaning even existing tag-holders cannot get a replacement, if their tag malfunctions, which, given the ageing technology, is a frequent occurrence.
“Clearly the needs of the cab trade are not high on HAL’s agenda – let’s be honest we’re ‘any other business’ at best. Despite this, drivers have done a heroic job recently, often working late into the night to get people to their hotels after cancellations and delays.
“We are told that new tags are ‘on order.’ I believe HAL when they tell us they are as frustrated as we are, but if they had ordered the tags a year ago, when trade reps first raised these issues, we wouldn’t be in this situation now.”