POLICE at Alicante-Elche airport have stepped up surveillance and inspection of vehicles that may be operating as illegal taxis.
Clandestine services threaten the livelihoods of licenced cabbies who in recent years have had to contend with fewer passengers during the pandemic and huge hikes in fuel prices, while maintaining existing tariffs.
Passengers using a pirate taxi are also uninsured in the case of an accident.
Elche Policia Local said they recently towed away a vehicle that was parked in an authorised area.
As it was being removed, the car owner appeared with three alleged ‘neighbours’ who were British, Irish, and Czech who he claimed he was going to take home.
Officers questioned the passengers and discovered they did not know each other.
The driver ended up admitting that he was a pirate operator charging each person €15 to take them to Torrevieja.
If all three passengers had shared an official taxi, the total cost would only have been around €15 more.
In another case, police saw a man with a group of people who did not speak to each other boarding a vehicle.
As officers intervened, the driver moved off with some of his passengers yet to get in and one tourist almost falling to the ground.
He stopped the vehicle and confessed that he had been penalised several times for illegal parking.
What caught the eye of the police were various cards inside his vehicle labelled ‘Airport Transfer’ as well as a bill for illegal airport journeys.
An Elche Policia Local spokesperson said: “Our inspections enable the detection of multiple cases of illegal transfers of passengers going to different municipalities in Alicante province which represents illegal and unfair competition to licenced taxis’.
Pirate operators face a fine of up to €4,001 if they are caught.
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