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RANK ACCESS: It is becoming harder for Heathrow Airport to justify NOT releasing taxi ‘tag’ devices

It is becoming harder for Heathrow Airport to justify NOT releasing a small number of ‘tags’ per month to taxi drivers wishing to service the airport taxi ranks, says taxi representative.

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.

Sam Houston, LTDA Senior Rep, said in TAXI Newspaper: “We’ve been contacted by a number of members regarding tags to work the airport. As usual, enquiries are from both existing tag-holders and also from drivers who are on the waiting list.

“I shouldn’t be surprised at the level of misinformation – drivers without tags are often convinced that people behind them on the list have ‘jumped the queue’, while drivers in the feeder park are sure that they are seeing more and more new faces. (This has been the case for as long as I can remember). All of this while throughput in August was less than half that in August 2019 (September figures not available at time of press) and there are visibly far fewer drivers than before the pandemic. Cabs are rarely in the North Park and it’s not so long ago both parks were full and queuing...

“On top of that the airport have said they are not prepared to issue new tags until demand ‘normalises’. Well, it’s definitely not normal at the moment as the rules for travellers from various parts of the world continue to change and waiting times for baggage and customs vary considerably.

“It’s important to remember that Heathrow first suspended tags in June 2019 because the parks were constantly oversubscribed, causing significant disruption. The suspension was carried out without consultation or approval by the trade. The situation is different now, and while it’s true that we don’t yet know where throughput will end up, it is becoming harder for HAL to justify not releasing a small number of tags per month to drivers who undertook the Knowledge in good faith with the idea that they’d be able to work the airport. It’s only fair.”

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