Even though more than 100,000 passengers will pass through Ben Gurion airport each day in August, only one bid has been filed for the Israeli airport's taxi tender - a joint bid from taxi app Gett and tourism company Bon Tour, sources have informed "Globes." No bids have been received from rival apps Uber and Yango or the veteran large taxi companies, who all claim that the tender's requirements are unreasonable, there has been a lack of transparency by the Israel Airports Authority, and that the terms of the tender are not economically worthwhile.
At present the taxi situation at Ben Gurion airport is very problematic with a lack of taxis available at peak times and drivers ripping off tourists by charging exorbitant fares.
Uber, for example, operates taxi services from over 600 airports worldwide and has developed technological tools for some of the world's biggest airport authorities. Uber confirmed to "Globes" that it is not participating in the tender because of the terms. Uber said, "Today, Uber continues to operate a taxi service in Israel through the app with the cooperation of thousands of licensed taxi drivers, including trips to and from Ben Gurion airport."
Yango said, "The tender for Ben Gurion airport sets operational requirements that do not allow us to meet them in a way that would be profitable. We has planned to bid for the tender with the intention of providing the best conditions, and excellent service that Yango offers to passengers and drivers, but the difficulties that piled up in the form of unreasonable demands, overcame our ability to participate in the tender."
The tender, five years after the previous tender failed, led to the opening of Ben Gurion airport to all taxi drivers and the existing situation. Former Minister of Transport Merav Michaeli announced in mid-2022 that a tender had been issued. The ministry took five months to publish it and the companies were given a month to file bids, even though it was a tender involving tens of millions shekels over four years. Thirteen clarifications were issued that changed the requirements, among other things, by allowing a tech company to submit a bid without a tourism company. The deadline for submitting the bids was postponed several times by the Israel Airports Authority at the last minute.
A source familiar with the matter told "Globes," "Ultimately what is happening at Ben Gurion airport is a microcosm of Israel's entire taxi market. The Ministry of Transport must deal with this and what is happening on taxi journeys throughout the country. Taxi drivers are taking fares for journeys above what is allowed by law because they know there is no enforcement. The Ministry of Transport has excluded itself from the taxi industry. They are not fulfilling their duty and supervising the sector."
The Israel Airports Authority said, "The tenders committee has not yet decided on the matter."
The Ministry of Transport said, "The tender is being operated by the special taxis service at Ben Gurion airport, which is managed by the Israel Airports Authority and is in its advanced stages."
"On the issue of enforcement, it should be noted that the Ministry of Transport conducts ongoing enforcement activities against taxi drivers who charge exorbitant prices, throughout the country, including against taxi drivers operating at Ben Gurion airport. Recently, a number of audits were carried out at Ben Gurion airport by undercover inspectors of the Ministry of Transport and reports were given to drivers who violated the terms of the license and charged a higher fare than is allowed by law. "The Ministry of Transport calls on any passenger who paid an exorbitant taxi fare or encountered a driver who violated the terms of the license, to file a complaint with the Ministry of Transport, which will be handled with full attention and speed. It should be noted that every year hundreds of charges are filed against taxi drivers on extortionate fares. These drivers are subject to severe penalties and sanctions which include, among other things, fines totaling thousands of shekels for every driver breaking the law."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on May 22, 2023.
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