Taxi fares for people leaving Ben-Gurion International Airport are due to fall 12% starting Monday, but not all drivers will be charging the lower fare.
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Under the interim plan announced by the Israel Airport Authority on Sunday, drivers who agree to the lower fare will be allowed to pick up passengers at the ground-level arrivals hall. Those charging the higher fare will be confined to the departures level, where there is far less business for them.
In addition, riders who reserve a taxi by app or telephone will be assured the lower fare. For those riders, their taxis will wait at a special area adjacent to the short-term parking lot.
The plan comes after the collapse of the contract the IAA had awarded a partnership between the Hadar-Lod taxi company and the ride-sharing app Gett, giving them exclusive rights to riders leaving Ben-Gurion. The contract said fares would go down 31% but Hadar-Lod backed out of the agreement with Gett and the IAA then canceled the contract.
Hadar-Lod held exclusive rights to outgoing Ben-Gurion taxis for the past 20 years and the cancellation of the contract has since opened the airport business to all taxis. IAA workers have since replaced Hadar-Lod employees to match up cabs with passengers and keep order.
Yehuda Bar-Or, chairman of the National Taxi Drivers Union, said he wasn’t happy about the IAA’s plan, which will remain in effect until a new contract for Ben-Gurion taxi service is awarded, but said he wouldn’t fight it.
“Cab drivers are in a difficult situation and aren’t making money. But every driver can do as he wants – if he feels he can give the IAA discount, even though fares nationwide have been lowered 7%, I won’t stop him,” said Bar-Or, who was questioned by the Antitrust Authority last month on suspicions he tried to block the contract cutting fares by 31%.
“Personally, I don’t like the discount, but it’s more reasonable than the original plan to lower airport fares by 31%,” he said.
The IAA said drivers who agree to the lower fare will not only benefit from a better location for picking up riders but will be exempt from the five-shekel ($1.40) charge the IAA imposes, as well as a 5.80-shekel registration fee, which officials said would compensate drivers.
Industry sources said the two-tier system would probably come under pressure during the peak tourism season this summer. With some 4.5 million passengers expected to be crowding through Ben-Gurion, they said many travelers would probably opt for the higher fare rather than wait in a long line for the lower one.
The IAA declined to discuss terms for the new tender for a Ben-Gurion franchisee, but industry sources said it would probably force the winner to discount fares by 12% or more because it will be chosen on the basis of the discount offered.