Taxi drivers agreed to go back to work after a meeting with the government and Aena. | Miquel A. Cañellas

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Taxi services at Palma airport were yesterday (Thursday) brought to a standstill following a confrontation between licensed taxi drivers and what the drivers described as "pirate" services.

Some fifty taxi drivers at the airport stopped working in protest at the presence in arrivals of representatives of "microbus" services who were offering places to tourists. There were some ugly scenes involving the drivers and these representatives, as tourists were for a time (from 18.30 to 22.00) left without any services. Police had to advise tourists to use bus services, though taxi drivers did relent and provide services to groups with children, the elderly and mobility problems. The number of protesting taxi drivers eventually swelled to more than 300. The Palma EMT transport company provided an additional bus for its route from the airport to the city centre in order to help to move tourists.

The taxi drivers insisted that they would not fully resume services until they had met government and Aena representatives. The transport ministry explained that the offer of places by the microbuses and also hire cars with drivers was not in principle illegal, though the taxi drivers argued that the way of attracting custom was. Biel Moragues, president of the association of self-employed taxi drivers, described the situation at the airport as being "like a Persian market" because of the number of other services being offered.

Following talks, which also included Palma town hall representatives, it was announced that the government will today (Friday) pass a decree by which taxi drivers will be the only ones who can offer services in the airport. The microbuses and others will need to have a previously agreed contract with customers.

Local police and National Police will be deployed at the airport today and on following days to enforce this. The taxi drivers say that they will wait a week. If the "pirate" services are still present and touting for business, there will be a total halt to taxi services at the airport.