Suvarnabhumi guarantees taxi service amid rally threat

Normal taxi drivers are not happy to see their rivals using electric vehicles collect a higher surcharge. (Photo by Sutthiwit Chayutworakan)

The Suvarnabhumi airport chief has shrugged off a strike threat by a group of taxi drivers unhappy with a two-tier surcharge, saying he could guarantee the service would not be disrupted.

Suvarnabhumi deputy general manager Kittipong Kittikajorn on Friday said the taxi service at Thailand's gateway would continue normally amid reports that a group of drivers would call a strike for an increase in the extra charge.

The disgruntled drivers are complaining about the two-tier extra fee charged on passengers. Travellers using the service out of Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports are normally required to pay 50 baht on top of the meter fare.

But a new service called Taxi VIP is allowed by the Transport Ministry to collect 100 baht. The first fleet of electric taxis imported from China hit Bangkok streets on Sept 9. The ministry cited the higher cost of the vehicles as the reason to allow the newcomer to charge a higher fee.

Regular taxi drivers have forwarded their demand for a fair treatment to Suvarnabhumi authorities but the decision rests with the Land Transport Department, the agency governing public transport. (continued below)

The first fleet of Chinese-made electric vehicles, called Taxi VIP, introduced on Sept 9, is allowed for the higher extra fee for service at two Bangkok airports. (Photo from Land Transport Department website)

Driver Wittawat Ruangmontree said he was waiting for a call from representatives of the group on their next move after they had filed the complaint with the airport authorities.

Supattaraonk Inram, another driver, called the higher surcharge for EV taxis unfair. "They use electricity but we have to buy petrol, too," he said.

Department director-general Sanit Promwong said the agency would not allow normal taxis to increase the airport fee and added that it would temporarily allow taxis outside the two airports to pick up passengers if a strike is held, according to media reports.

Taxi drivers at Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang have to register with airport authorities before they can take passengers out of the two airports.

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