A £1 drop-off charge at Aberdeen International Airport has been labelled “highway robbery” one month on from its controversial introduction.
The new fee came into effect on January 7, despite a backlash from motorists and members of the taxi trade.
Some angry cabbies have told the Press and Journal they are paying as much as £120 a month from their own pockets to cover the charge.
All non-airport taxis coming into the passenger drop off zone must pay the £1 out of their own pockets until a change in the tariff is officially approved by the Aberdeen City Council’s licensing committee.
Driver Stevie Robertson – taxi trade representative for the Unite union in Aberdeen – said a request from drivers to pass the £1 charge onto the customer was not “unreasonable”.
He added: “I have spoken to drivers, some are going out to the airport and it’s costing them about £30 a week.
“It is not surprising if you work five or six days a week, it is not unusual to make five runs to the airport per shift.”
He said it was a form of “highway robbery”, adding: “It’s a public road in our eyes.
“There was no consultation with the council or the taxi trade.”
Mr Robertson said: “There was never any (traffic) issues until April – May last year and the traffic wardens were removed and people started hanging around.”
An airport spokeswoman insisted last night that the scheme has proved to be “successful” so far.
She would not give the exact figures for usage of the drop-off zone since its introduction last month.
Sergeant Hamish King from Police Scotland’s border police command, who is based at the airport, said congestion has reduced “noticeably” at peak times of the day.
Councillor Scott Carle, convener of the council’s taxi consultation group and licensing committee, said fare changes could be implemented as part of the local authority’s ongoing fares review.
Mr Carle said: “It’s something that the trade can bring up during the consultation process and if it’s something they wish to be addressed by the committee it’s something they can highlight to us.
“It’s not been particularly popular with the public or the taxi drivers.
“It seems unfair that this was put upon them without any consultation with the trade or the council.”
North-east Labour MSP Richard Baker said it was “vital” that the airport consulted with the taxi trade but had been “reassured” by airport bosses that the £1 fee was not a step towards a larger fee.