Taxis wait at the Rockhampton Airport rank.
Taxis wait at the Rockhampton Airport rank. Allan Reinikka

Passengers to pay airport taxi fee

PASSENGERS using taxis to get to and from Rockhampton Airport could soon be slugged with a $2 surcharge.

Councillors yesterday voted to approve the introduction of a charge to taxi operators to boost income from the council-owned airport.

But the measure has to be approved by a full council meeting, and with Mayor Brad Carter among those said to be opposed, it's not certain to be rubber stamped.

Wayne Davey, chairman of Rocky Cabs, said he was sure some taxi drivers would lobby their councillors to vote against the fee.

If the charge is introduced he believes some cab owners will carry out a threat to boycott the airport.

However, with 65 cabs operating in the city, he says there will be plenty of drivers available for airline passengers who require them.

Airport director David Blackwell said there was continuing pressure from the council to increase its operating profit and hence the financial return to council.

He pointed out that a $2 fee was levied on taxis at Townsville, Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast airports, $2.50 at Hobart and $3 at both Cairns and Mackay.

In return for the levy the airport would provide CCTV coverage of the taxi rank for customer services purposes and up to $10,000 a year towards the cost of employing a taxi marshal.

“Other businesses that do business at the airport pay for the privilege,” he said.

“The cab owners will pass the cost on to their customers.”

Mr Davey said he believed the fee could prevent some people from using taxis to access the airport but he pointed out that a lot of clients were on business and their companies would pick up the tab.

The matter is expected to be debated further at the next full council meeting on Tuesday.

The airport's finances are still in the spotlight. Mr Blackwell reported that Tiger Airways' decision to cancel its services between Rockhampton and Melbourne would cost the airport between $50,000 and $90,000 in income.

And he said the closure of the airport during January's floods would result in a $200,000 shortfall in annual income compared with the original budget despite increased revenue from commercial activity in the terminal, paid parking and rental cars.

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