Deal to lower airport taxi fares collapses
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Deal to lower airport taxi fares collapses

Israel Airports Authority says that while all cab companies can now pick up passengers, prices will remain the same

Illustrative: Line of taxis waiting for passengers (Kobi Gideon/Flash90)
Illustrative: Line of taxis waiting for passengers (Kobi Gideon/Flash90)

An agreement set to take effect this week that would lower taxi fares to and from Ben Gurion International Airport was delayed indefinitely after one of the cab companies withdrew from the deal on Sunday amid protests by its drivers.

Following the Hadar-Lod taxi company’s announcement that it would pull out of the agreement it signed along with the Israeli ride-service app Gett, the Israel Airports Authority called off its contract with Hadar-Lod and said it would issue a new tender.

Due to Hadar-Lod’s decision to withdraw from the deal before it was set to take effect overnight Monday, current prices to and from the airport, which are set, will remain in place until a new contract is reached, even though the Israel Airports Authority announced Sunday that all cab companies would now be able to bring passengers to and from the airport.

The Israel Airports Authority also said that it would provide 10 free shuttles for passengers traveling to and from Ben Gurion during peak hours, with destinations determined based on demand, to ensure there would not be any disruptions resulting from the collapse of the deal, which was prompted by protests from Hadar-Lod drivers over concerns the lower fares would hurt their incomes.

Illustrative: Taxi drivers protest against a decision by the finance and transportation ministries to reduce taxi fares near the Finance Ministry in Jerusalem on November 14, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Illustrative: Taxi drivers protest against a decision by the finance and transportation ministries to reduce taxi fares near the Finance Ministry in Jerusalem on November 14, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Under the deal, Hadar-Lod would have acted as a central coordinator for all taxi operators to serve the airport and was required to develop an app that would enable the ordering of rides ahead of time.

The agreement reached in March between the finance and transportation ministries, along with the Israel Airports Authority, to lower taxi prices was aimed at ending Hadar-Lod’s four-decade monopoly as the only company allowed to operate taxi services from the arrivals area.

While other companies could bring travelers to the airport, their drivers were not permitted to pick up fares heading in the opposite direction. As a result, some 70 percent of the taxis leaving the airport were empty because they don’t belong to the Hadar-Lod company. Consequently, taxi drivers have been forced to hike their prices to cover the cost of making one-way trips to the airport.

In addition, Hadar-Lod was required to pay royalties to the airport to run its services as well as a NIS 5 surcharge for each journey. Those costs were translated into a hike in taxi fares.

While a journey from the airport to Jerusalem currently costs NIS 249 ($69) under the current system, the price would have dropped to NIS 172 ($48) following the reform.

Stuart Winer contributed to this report.

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