KAIA taxis complain about app-based taxis

File photo of a Careem captain in action in the Kingdom.

Saudi Gazette report

JEDDAH — Ordinary taxi drivers at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah have complained about illegal operation of the app-based Uber and Careem taxis, saying it would negatively affect their job and source of living.

Authorities at KAIA, meanwhile, warned illegal taxis that they face a fine of SR5,000 if they violate the airport’s rules and regulations and operate at its terminals without license.

In a related development, the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) said it would soon announce a new taxi system allowing Uber and Careem to operate at all its airports.

Mohammed Nasser, a driver, highlighted the plight of ordinary taxi drivers at the airport. “We wait at the airport for hours to get passengers and we offer our services at fixed rates. But drivers of ride-hailing apps Uber and Careem take passengers without standing in the queue like us,” Nasser said while speaking to Al-Madina Arabic daily.

He added: “These drivers know that they violate the airport’s regulations and take passengers who contact them for the service. They also know it’s the right of existing taxis to carry passengers before Uber and Careem taxis.”

Nasser said the illegal operation of Uber and Careem taxis inside the airport would kill their business totally, urging authorities to keep a watch on such illegal taxis.

Ali Al-Harbi, another driver, said he was operating at the airport after paying an annual fee of SR1,000 and following certain conditions issued by GACA. “We pay SR5 while entering the airport every time and stand in the queue like other taxis to wait for the arrival of passengers.”

He said the arrival of Uber and Careem would affect their business as they pose unfair competition to ordinary taxis. “Previously we were facing the problem of illegal private taxis and now we are facing app-based taxis,” he added.

Faisal Al-Zubali, also a driver, said GACA’s move to allow Uber and Careem to operate at all airports in the Kingdom would affect existing taxi drivers. “Authorities should reconsider their plan to allow the new app-based taxis as it would cut their only income source,” he told Al-Madina.

Abdullah Al-Khurayef, spokesman of GACA, said his organization was negotiating with Uber, Careem and other app-based taxis to operate at all the Kingdom’s airports. “It will give more options to passengers,” he said while stressing that the new taxis must follow the Kingdom’s transport rules. GACA has already licensed Careem to operate at King Khaled Airport in Riyadh.

Turki Al-Daib, spokesman of KAIA, said illegal taxis would be fined SR5,000. “We are now coordinating with app-based taxis such as Uber and Careem to make their services available at the airport. We would like to provide all forms of transport services at the airport and give passengers options to select the service they want,” he explained.

Al-Daib said all app-based taxis in the Kingdom should follow the Transport Ministry’s regulations. “All these taxis must obtain a license from KAIA as well,” he added.

Airport taxis charge SR55 to SR95 for service within Jeddah city, SR125 to King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Thuwal, SR135 to Jamoom, Wadi Fatma, Barza and Khulais, SR155 to Makkah (except during Haj and Ramadan when the charge goes up to SR205), SR255 to Rabigh, Al-Laith and Mastura, SR355 to Taif, SR405 to Yanbu and Qunfuda and SR505 to Madinah.