Record tourist numbers but 2 hours to get a taxi from the airport
In February 2023, the Canary Islands airports exceeded the number of passengers in February 2019, the year before the pandemic, by 8%, with a total of 3,873,985 travellers. In addition, this data represents an increase of 27.9% compared to February last year.
Of these, the total number of commercial passengers in February was 3,813,702, of which 2,451,351 were on international flights (+4.7% compared to February 2019 and +29.9% compared to February 2022) and 1,362,351 were on domestic flights (+12.1% compared to before the pandemic and +23.9% compared to last year).
The airport in the Canary Islands with the most passengers last month was Gran Canaria with 1,162,836 (+3.3% over February 2019 and +30.7% over February last year), followed by Tenerife South Airport with 1,055,210 passengers (+10.7% over the same month before the pandemic and +28% over the same month last year).
The third busiest was Lanzarote airport with 622,198 travellers (+12% over February 2019 and +26% over the same month of 2022); and then Fuerteventura with 476,996 (+11% over the same month before the pandemic and +28% over the same month last year).
However, as much as this is good news, especially as today is three years since the Canary Islands went into lockdown at 12 o’clock at night on Saturday 14th March 2020, visitors to the islands are facing an unwanted problem when they get here, which is lengthy waits for a taxi from the airport of up to two hours.
There are images all over social media where people have posted about the problem, particularly on busy days at the Tenerife South and Gran Canaria airports, where hundreds of people are getting more and more frustrated by long queues and empty taxi ranks.
The Taxi Co-operatives claim that there are not enough taxi licences or drivers available to cope with the demand since the rebound in tourism, and this weekend the Local Police in Telde (Gran Canaria) requested that taxis drivers from other municipalities come and help out, which is normally forbidden by their licence restrictions.
However, taxi drivers in Tenerife are also blaming the volume of traffic in the south of the island for part of the problem as well. The TF-1 motorway seems to be blocked on a daily basis between Costa Adeje and Los Cristianos or Las Chafiras and the airport, which means they physically can’t transport people or get back to the airport quickly to alleviate the queues.
The president of the Association for the Rights of Taxi Drivers in the Canary Islands (ASPROTAC), Francisco Mendoza, is demanding that the Transport Departments of the island’s Cabildos take action as this is an image we cannot continue to portray as it will be harmful to tourism.
“We need a solution and we need one quickly”, he said, “the Cabildos need to eliminate the current limit of 20 transfers per month per license that it grants to taxis from other municipalities to pick up passengers at the airport when there are extreme queues. There used to be definitive busy and quiet days at the airports, but with a wider range of nationalities now visiting the islands, every day is a busy day."
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