Conflict at Palma airport between taxi drivers and "pirates". | Miquel À. Cañellas


Nine transport ministry inspectors will be operating at Palma airport this summer. A key task will be to prevent "pirate" taxi and transport firms, the source of a good deal of conflict with legitimate taxi drivers. In May last year, things boiled over. Taxi drivers stopped working for a time. The result was transport chaos for tourists arriving at the airport.

Despite the ministry's attempts to solve the problem of the pirate operators, it persisted. Inspectors not being permanently stationed and a lack of police were two reasons given as to why the problem continued. The transport minister, Marc Pons, has now announced that there will be up to nine inspectors and that two of them will be incognito. This, it is hoped, will make it easier to prove "irregularities".

The taxi drivers based at the airport are the only ones who the law permits to pick up clients without there being a pre-arranged booking. It had been the case that the law was vague on this. The government passed a decree last summer which dealt with the legal uncertainty.

There are different types of pirate. One category is the outright illegal, typically an individual with no licence for any form of transport service. The other is the licensed service which should have a pre-arrangement (a booking contract) in order to be able to pick up. The former of these is more prevalent at the airport in Ibiza than in Palma.

Cameras for checking vehicle registration numbers are now fully functional. These will assist with the inspection activity and help distinguish between taxis, transfer minibuses, vehicles with drivers for hire and individuals with no form of public transport licence.

The ministry says that 84 specific inspection controls are scheduled between May and October. These will take place at different times of the day and be in collaboration with the airports authority Aena and police.

Last year, the ministry handed out 48 penalties at the airport. These amounted to 79,580 euros in fines.