Taxi drivers on Wednesday will be holding a two-hour work stoppage to protest against the expansion of the airport shuttle service.
Set to start at 8:30am, the move was instigated by taxi drivers in Larnaca but will be supported by colleagues across Cyprus until about 10:30am.
According to deputy head of the Larnaca taxi drivers’ association Andreas Katsikides, the issue is airport shuttle buses that offer direct routes from airports to other cities.
The government is planning to licence a shuttle bus service from Larnaca airport to Ayia Napa and Protaras and taxi drivers argue the direct service from the airport is not necessary due to the availability of state supported Intercity buses.
Katsikides argued there are local buses from Larnaca airport to the city centre that allow travellers to then take the Intercity bus on to other towns.
“The intercity buses are funded from the government with the taxpayer’s money. By allowing the use of shuttle buses, they are wasting the public’s money.”
“In no other country in the world are there buses offering direct routes to other cities. Just in Cyprus.”
Although the association has not said this outright, the benefit to taxi drivers if people were to only use the local and intercity buses, is that they stop running too early for many travellers. The last intercity bus from Larnaca (starting at Finikoudes) to Nicosia is at 8pm and 8:30pm to Limassol.
This means people without a ride have to use a taxi to get to another city.
Katsikides said the association has a lawyer advising them who argues the law does not specify anything about buses leaving “from” the airport but only going “to” the airport.
“Shuttle buses also have an office inside the airport. Taxi drivers don’t.”
Katsikides argues that the starting point for the shuttle buses could be a few kilometres from the airport – Dromolaxia for instance, so that taxi drivers could offer rides to passengers.
Taxi drivers has threatened to escalate measures such as closing roads if the government doesn’t heed their requests.