RMT drivers protesting on the steps of the Town Hall about the airport contract being awarded to Addison Lee
LUTON Airport has told hackney carriage drivers the decision to award their contract to a rival taxi firm was fair.
Drivers from Luton Hackney Carriage Association say they face losing their job after the contract to operate the taxi rank they have worked in for 40 years was awarded to London based Addison Lee.
Drivers have argued that the decision will force them to take their black cabs to the town centre, where there is not enough work.
Munir Ahmed, a member of the association, said: "Years ago we were required to change all our comfy cars to back cabs to enhance the image of Luton Airport.
"So instead of buying a comfortable car for £15,000 I was obliged to buy an uncomfortable black cab for £40,000 with repayments of over £900 a month for four years.
"This pushed up all our fares and made us less popular with public. Now the decision has been reversed, but instead of letting hackenys convert back to cars they have awarded the contract to Addison Lee.
"When we worked as Hackney drivers we worked for ourselves, what we took we kept. Addison Lee is taking 30% off drivers who switch to their vans and cars. By switching, it's like taking a 30% pay cut, it's scandalous.
"What compensation will be given to drivers in causing the loss of jobs after decades working at the airport?"
Fellow driver Dahood Khan added: "Does this mean the policy was wrong when they forced us to buy expensive black cabs instead of saloon cars, claiming it would add to the prestige of the airport?
Members of the RMT recently held protests asking the tendering process to be undertaken again 'fairly', but Luton Airport say the decision was a fair one and there are no grounds to award drivers compensation.
A spokesman said: "The tender for a ground transportation provider has been a clear, fair and open process which began in December last year. Our priority is to ensure our customers receive the best possible service, and the tender was carried out with this in mind.
"There are no grounds for compensation under the previous contract which ended in June.