'Pirate' minibuses operators with tourists at the airport. | Jaume Morey

There are different types of so-called pirate transport operators at Palma Son Sant Joan Airport. Over the years, the licensed taxis at the airport have mostly had clashes with minibuses rather than other taxis. In the past couple of days, incidents have involved the minibuses, taxi drivers saying that the drivers of these minibuses are hired by transport operators to work exclusively at the airport.

The regulations, those of the Balearic government, are clear enough. Or should be. The licensed taxi drivers are the only ones who can pick up fares at the airport without prior appointment. But at the airport there are teams who wait for tourists at arrivals, hand out business cards and carry contracts with them.

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The minibuses park in an area reserved for VTC vehicles; VTC is a specific licence for cars for hire with drivers. So, the minibuses aren't at the taxi rank, where taxi drivers are now putting up signs to inform arriving passengers that they are the "only official taxis".

At a recent meeting with Josep Marí, the minister for mobility, a general consensus was that problems involving licensed taxi drivers at the airport (who are all Palma drivers) and pirate operators can only be resolved by having a Palma police presence. But there is no permanent presence, which is why airport security and the National Police get dragged in to sort out clashes.

The two main employers organisations in Mallorca - the CAEB Confederation of Balearic Business Associations and the PIMEM federation for small to medium-sized business associations - are both calling for the government and Palma town hall to take measures to put an end to the problems. Jordi Mora of PIMEM has condemned recent events, "which we classify as serious and even more so if they are caused by pirate operators acting without control at the airport". "We believe that the competent authorities do not provide the necessary resources to put an end to this illegal offer, which only generates problems and no benefit to the image of the island or to tourists and residents."