Taxi drivers, DAA in mediated talks

Fri, Aug 24, 2012, 01:00

TAXI DRIVERS and the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) were involved in mediated talks last night in an effort to resolve a dispute which has led to drivers refusing to pick up passengers arriving at the airport since Wednesday.

Both sides entered talks at about 5pm yesterday in the presence of independent mediator Sheamus Sweeney.

Passengers arriving at the airport have been forced to rely on public transport and private cars for their onward journeys since Wednesday after a row erupted over 55 taxi spaces in an overflow section of the taxi holding area of the airport which have been taken back by the DAA.

Taxi drivers took part in a number of slow-drive protests around the airport yesterday, sounding car horns.

Queues began to grow at the airport’s bus stops yesterday morning and more people appeared at the taxi rank seeking assistance from a lone dispatcher.

The man on duty patiently examined maps and hotel directions and pointed tourists and other travellers towards the buses. He declined to speak to reporters.

A sign at the rank warned passengers of the taxi strike, directing them to the nearby bus terminals. The authority had extra staff on duty directing passengers to alternative transport.

A DAA spokesman insisted the spaces, which had been used as an “overflow” facility for the main holding area, had only ever been available to the drivers on a temporary basis. He said the drivers had been aware of this since 2010.

He said there was no issue with parking capacity for taxi drivers at the airport, although drivers insist that the removal of the overflow spaces had forced them to park on the main road leaving them open to parking tickets from gardaí.

The spokesman said the authority had on Wednesday offered to restore 30 of the parking spaces on an interim basis. He said the taxi drivers’ representatives had appeared to accept this “credible and reasonable” offer, but later rejected it.

There were no delays to flights yesterday and no one had missed flights as a result of the dispute, but it was “hugely regrettable” that the drivers had caused such inconvenience to the travelling public, the spokesman added.

Jerry Brennan of the National Irish Taxi Association said, however, that the 30 spaces were insufficient to deal with the overflow. He said the airport authority had indicated it was going to use the space for staff parking, but it had not provided any alternative for the taxi drivers.

About 1,500 taxi drivers have permits to work from the airport. There are about 390 parking slots available after the 55 were taken away earlier this week, according to the airport authority. The DAA spokesman said the same number of spaces was available as in 2010, despite the fact there were about 300 fewer permit holders now.