Taxi drivers protest new Berlin airport fees
Around 3,000 taxis drove in convoy through central Berlin on Monday in protest at a huge rise in the extra fee for taking people to the German capital's new airport, set to open at the start of June.
"They can't just keep tightening the screws at the airports," Stephan Berndt, head of the Berlin state taxi association told the B.Z. newspaper. "At Tegel we have to pay 50 cents. At the new BER airport we have to pay €1.50."
At least 800 taxis came in protest from Berlin's two current airports – Tegel and Schönefeld – which are to be shut down to make way for the new Berlin Brandenburg International airport in the south of the city which opens at the start of June. The move is likely to be one of the largest logistical undertakings in post-war German history.
The disgruntled taxi-drivers drove along one of the city's main thoroughfares – the Strasse des 17. Juni – all the way to the Brandenburg Gate.
The protest caused some disruption at the city's airports on Monday morning, as passengers were left dependant on buses and trains between and 8am and 12pm.
The taxi drivers are concerned because fares to the new airport are expected to be more expensive anyway. A journey from Alexanderplatz in central Berlin to Tegel (about 13 kilometres) currently costs around €20. "That price will double with the new airport," warned Berndt, because it is 23 kilometres away – and the passenger is likely to be slapped with the extra €1.50 fee.
Protests are likely to continue up until the new opening. "Before the opening of BER there will at least four more campaigns," said Reinhard Ehringfeld of the Berlin Brandenburg taxi association.