THE row over taxi pick-ups at Edinburgh Airport is set to go to court.
The city’s largest cab firm, Central Taxis, is planning legal action against Edinburgh City Council after it granted a licence to collect passengers to a rival firm.
It is the latest move in a bitter dispute over the contracts which are worth millions of pounds.
Central is furious that the rival firm has been allowed to open a new pre-booking office at the terminal, which is Scotland’s busiest.
It is to base its case on the principle that a licence should not have been granted for the office, which is only yards from the taxi rank.
In an action to be raised at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, it will claim that the system is no longer in the spirit of a pre-booking agreement.
Passengers without bookings can merely make on the spot bookings and walk out to a waiting taxi.
Central Taxis, along with a second operator, previously had an exclusive five-year contract to provide cabs and private hire transport for the thousands of passengers which arrive each day.
But that arrangement ended when City Cabs and Edinburgh Private Hire won a new deal last year.
Central Taxis boss Tony Kenmuir says the new arrangement is not “pre booking”. He says the fact that arriving passengers can go to the new office, give their name and destination and pick up a cab as soon as one is available, is “instantaneous”.
He added: “We feel we have a valid argument and we are positive about the outcome of our appeal.”
But rival Kevin Woodburn of Edinburgh City Private Hire said he believed the motivation behind the planned legal action was simply “sour grapes”.
City council bosses have admitted they are aware of the pending legal action.
A report to the city’s licensing sub committee points out the benefit of passengers now having the option of both a taxi rank or booking a hire on arrival at the terminal.
Edinburgh Airport is seeking to distance itself from the rivalry row, but says it supports the new arrangement.
It claimed the siting of the new office was part of a series of wider improvements to the lay-out of facilities.
A spokesman said that when the original contract expired the opportunity existed to put passengers at the heart of future taxi provision.
The new system was in keeping with services offered at other major airport hubs.
He said: “ We are confident our taxi provisions are legal, and importantly, easy to use for our passengers. We are observing and will continue to comply with all legal and licensing requirements.
“We are supportive of the diligent approach the council has taken.”