Taxi drivers at Suvarnabhumi airport are demanding the airport raise service fees and fares to lure back drivers to solve the problem of a taxi shortage.
President of the Thai Public Taxi Association Sadit Jaitiang said about 9,000 taxis were registered to serve passengers at Suvarnabhumi Airport before the Covid-19 pandemic.
At present, less than half of the number provide the service, as many drivers had financial problems. Many had their cars seized due to their inability to pay the rent, he said. Others had gone back to their hometowns and started new careers.
He said he was not optimistic the number of taxis available at the airport can return to the same levels as before the pandemic.
"I doubt Suvarnabhumi Airport can offer us some benefits that we have been asking for. We asked them to raise the starting price for fares from 35 baht to 40 baht.
"We also demand a charge of eight baht per kilometre for the first 10 kilometres instead of the present rate of 5.50 baht/km. We also raised the issue of a service charge of 50 baht, which we say should be increased to 80 baht," said Mr Sadit.
"These are minor adjustments based on the higher cost of living. Most people are affected by inflation, including us. The fare has been static for many years while fuel costs rise and the cost of living has grown higher," he said.
The problem of the taxi shortage at the airport came to light at the beginning of October during the long holiday. Many travellers posted pictures on social media of long lines at the airport taxi queue. Some passengers prefer taking the Airport Rail Link or hiring a Grab car. Others do not want to ride an airport taxi because they say the 50-baht service charge and another charge for large luggage, ranging from 20-100-baht, are too high.
Somsak, 26, told the Bangkok Post that he is a frequent flyer both domestically and internationally. He said the 50-baht service charge set by Suvarnabhumi Airport taxis is unnecessary, making the total service fare too expensive.
Passenger Somchai said he had stopped taking airport taxis and turned to the Grab app. Another passenger, Wiyada, 49, said she also preferred using the ride hailing app. She said the service was more convenient and the fee was fair. In addition, she did not have to waste time waiting in queues for an airport taxi.
Sawitri, 45, a security officer, said the taxi kiosk service is still working, but few Thais take airport taxis because of the expensive fare. She said she stopped taking airport taxis after Airport Railway began running its service. The train fare is much cheaper than the taxi fare, she added.
Suvarnabhumi airport authorities are aware of the taxi shortage problem. They intend asking taxi drivers to register as official airport transport. A source at the airport said about 100,000 foreign passengers take an airport taxi every day, which is still below levels before the Covid-19 pandemic when 180,000 foreign passengers per day arrived at the airport.
"We are now recruiting more airport taxis and aim to bring back drivers members who were with us before the pandemic," he said. He expects the problem will be solved before long.