Taxi drivers protest airport decision

About 100 taxi drivers gathered outside Parliament this morning to protest changes to taxi stands at Wellington Airport.

Cabs involved in the protest include drivers from the ACE Taxis, Kiwi Cabs, Wellington Taxis 2005, Amalgamated Taxis, Harbour City Taxis, Choice Taxis, Supreme Taxis and Dial-a-Cab.

The drivers are protesting a deal done by the airport and Wellington Combined Taxis to give that company a preferential pick-up zone at the airport from July 1.

A spokesman for about 300 cab drivers owned and operated by the smaller companies, Logan Pithyou, said drivers would be protesting each morning this week between 7am and midday.

"They'll be driving between the airport and Parliament. We just want to highlight the fact there are a lot of people who will be locked out.

"Many of them are already looking at signing up for the dole. Their livelihoods depend on them being able to pick people up from the airport. It's not good for these people."

No one from Wellington Airport was available for comment.

Divend Prasad, a Wellington taxi driver, said he was beeping his horn as part of the protest and was given a $150 ticket by police.

He said he was told he would end up in jail if he did it again.

Mr Prasad was a registered high school maths and science teacher in his native Fiji.

Unable to get work as a teacher in New Zealand, he resorted to driving a taxi, he said.

Fellow taxi driver Vonrick Kerr said the changes at the airport were the "straw that broke the camel's back".

The prime taxi rank spots were going to those with deep pockets, he said.

"The shallow pocket area is the back where we're not going to get any work at all and we feel that's an injustice."

The airport was partly council-owned so taxi drivers, as ratepayers, should be able to earn a living there, Mr Kerr said.

- with NZPA

The Dominion Post