A PRIVATE car hire firm has been awarded a £30 million contract to control Edinburgh Airport’s taxi rank in a joint venture set to guarantee a maximum five-minute wait for vehicles.
The five-year contract was yesterday awarded to Edinburgh City Private Hire, which will operate in partnership with black cab firm City Cabs starting from April 14.
Under the decision, airport passengers would be greeted by drivers wearing a single uniform, with taxis provided for each plane arrival.
Vehicles would have to be no older than five years old and each driver would be required to carry identification. Plans are in discussion for all vehicles on the rank to bear the same colours within a year.
The deal ends the existing five-year service run through a consortium between Central Taxis and City Cabs, as well as private hire firm Onward Travel.
Central Taxis – the largest cab operator in the Capital – submitted a tender for the contract, but was unsuccessful.
Central Taxis director Tony Kenmuir, left, said: “Our concern is that ECPH is a private hire company. They can only be pre-booked by telephone and they’re not taxis in the eyes of the law. Their drivers are not qualified taxi drivers. As far as we’re concerned, the minimum standard for a taxi driver is that you pass the Edinburgh City Council topographical test. That’s your basic entry level qualification to get behind the wheel and ply for hire.”
Mr Kenmuir denied his opposition was a case of “commercial sour grapes”, saying his company had been offered the chance to go into partnership with ECPH as part of the tender process, but had rejected the offer.
Neither the city council nor Lothian and Borders Police voiced concerns about the agreement when contacted by the Evening News yesterday.
An airport spokesman claimed the new contract would guarantee an improved level of service. He said: “Submissions were reviewed by an independent staff panel, with the tender process overseen by an independent external body.
We believe it will provide a step change service for passengers at Scotland’s capital city.”
ECPH director Kevin Woodburn said the firm intended to operate 24 hours out of the airport to meet requirements.
He defended the company, saying: “Every single driver, every single vehicle and this company is fully licensed, vetted and accredited through the local licensing authority.
“Any comments that other companies might like to make are not only way off the mark, but they’re factually incorrect.”