Taxi drivers disrupted services at Ben Gurion Airport on Monday in protest of a two-tier pricing policy to give preference to drivers offering a 12 percent discount on official fares. By nighttime an agreement was said to have been reached.
The protest came after talks with airport management broke down, Hebrew media sources reported.
The drivers opposed a plan which came into effect Monday to allow cabbies giving a 12 percent discount to pick up fares at the arrivals hall, relegating those who charge the costlier transport ministry list price to the departure hall level on level 3, where it is harder to pick up fares.
In addition, those offering the discount price are now exempt from an airport surcharge and a registration fee, which together are worth NIS 10.80 ($3).
The two-tier system was proposed by airport chiefs after the collapse earlier this year of a separate effort to lower taxi prices by ending a 40-year monopoly which gave just one company — Hadar-Lod — the right to operate cabs from the arrivals area.
Until that point, all other cabs — some 70 % — were allowed to bring travelers to the departure hall, but had to leave empty as they were forbidden from picking up customers from arrivals. The result was that drivers inflated their prices to cover the loss.
Hadar-Lod paid royalties to the airport as well as a surcharge for each journey — costs that were passed onto the customers.
A journey from the airport to Jerusalem currently costs a family with two children NIS 248 ($68) according to the transport ministry’s list price.
In an effort to reform the system, the Israel Airports Authority issued a tender and signed a contract with Hadar-Lod and the ride-sharing app Gett to reduce fares by 31%. Soon after the agreement, however, and following opposition from its drivers, Hadar-Lod pulled out, saying it could not meet the contract price.
Channel 10 news reported late Monday that the IAA and Hadar-Lod had reached a compromise, by which the regular fare would continue to be charged on level 1’s arrivals hall, while the reduced price would enter into effect on level 2.
Some 4.5 million passengers are expected to pass through Ben Gurion Airport over the summer.