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‘WORRYING TIMES’: London taxi reps concerned as Heathrow looks at potential commercial rank model

London taxi representatives have suggested there could be more ‘worrying times’ for cabbies working on the Heathrow rank as the airport looks to monetise.

According to the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA) airport officials are looking at new ways to make commercial profit from taxis ranking at the busy European destination.

In June 2022 the airport recorded the highest number of taxi movements through the feeder park since 2010, thanks partly to the number of flight cancellations and high levels of disruption at the airport.

Last Spring London’s black cabs were forced to begin paying a £5 fee to drop off at all Heathrow Airport terminals to help cover the costs suffered by Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL) during the pandemic.

The decision followed a public consultation, with Transport for London (TfL) which was used to form a number of changes to taxi fares and tariffs. Taxi drivers are now allowed to add a charge of up to £5.20 to the fare when dropping off passengers at Heathrow Airport unless their taxi has been registered for a Blue Badge concession.

Sam Houston, LTDA Senior Rep, said in TAXI Newspaper: “Worrying times once again at Heathrow. It appears Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL) would like to change the status of the Taxi Feeder Park (TFP) from its current designation, whereby it is accounted for under a cost-recovery method, to a more commercial arrangement.

“It’s hard to see how this would benefit either customers or taxi drivers, as it would surely increase costs. If this is really what HAL wants then they should make a coherent case to the trade as to how it would improve our business or our offer to customers, otherwise it’s just profiteering.

“Perhaps all this is partly because business was good in 2022 – by all accounts it was a record year for throughput in the TFP. However, no-one knows what 2023 will bring; although the park was moving reasonably well in the first few weeks of this year, for the first time since the pandemic, we are almost filling the North Park, and wardens have been required to make sure every driver that arrives can go to work.

“As I’ve said before, Heathrow Airport is a great source of work for the London Taxi Trade; it is a prestigious thing to be the service that greets visitors to London. But HAL is not TfL – its purpose is to operate the airport successfully and (ideally) to profit its owners, not the London cab trade. This means they will come after us, if they can, for a bigger slice of what we make and we have to do our best to stay ahead of the game. That’s business.”


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