A lengthy dispute between taxi drivers and Birmingham International Airport over a terminated contract has finally ended after a judge ruled airport bosses had acted legally.
Members of the Birmingham and Solihull Taxi Association, who have served the airport for more than 50 years, claimed they had been unfairly treated after losing their contract to rival Passenger Transport Services on June 1.
In protest, hundreds of BASTA drivers took part in a drive-slow through Birmingham city centre which brought rush-hour traffic to a standstill. More mayhem ensued over three days, as cabbies flocked around New Street station and other busy ranks looking for fares.
But an injunction granted last month had allowed drivers to return to work at the airport until the judicial review was settled at Birmingham High Court.
Justice Wyn Williams ruled airport bosses had acted legally in awarding PTS a new contract because of BASTA’s worsening financial situation.
Mr Justice Williams cited a contract made between BASTA and the airport in 2004 which stated that the agreement could be terminated if there was a “substantial deterioration in the financial circumstances of the licensee”.
BASTA’s accounts showed that the group made a net loss of £289,952 in 2007 and was expected to continue making a loss into 2008.
Mr Justice Williams stated the companies’ loss of money, “could have very damaging effects on the provision of taxi services.” He agreed BASTA had the opportunity to make appropriate representations about the state of its financial affairs and about whether the license should be terminated.
One of BASTA’s directors, Mr Bashir Ahmed, attended the hearing and, after reading the review, said he feared BASTA would go bankrupt.
“BASTA is a non-profit making organisation that only formed to support drivers at the airport. Since they have not been working, it has not received funding by subscription,” he said.
“Many of the drivers haven’t worked since PTS took over in June and may have to start claiming benefits.”
Mr Ahmed, a taxi driver for 13 years, said his colleagues had been unable to find work in other areas in the city. “There are 150-200 drivers out of work with nowhere to go. Birmingham city centre is saturated – it can take up to three hours to get one fare,” he said.
An airport spokesman said: “We welcome the Court’s judgement concerning the judicial review which was filed by BASTA following our decision to change the management contract for our Hackney Carriage operation at Birmingham Airport.
“We have had a successful transition and the black cab operation continues to be coordinated by the new management company, PTS, which offers our black cab drivers and passengers the facilities and service they require.”