State Audit Office (VK) said October 7 that the situation with taxis at Rīga International Airport is far from ideal and there is still a chance passengers might encounter unfair pricing.
Unfair pricing of taxi service at Rīga International airport has been a long-standing issue, Until 2017, the airport had set criteria for taxis that were permitted to provide services on its territory, and only two companies – Red Cab and Baltic Taxi – met the conditions. However, in 2017, the Competition Council ruled that such a procedure was unacceptable and opened up the market to all firms.
New norms came in force in 2019 to improve service and prevent taxi fraud as tourists are known to have been greatly overcharged .
According to the statement from VK, the State Audit Office only partially agrees with the statement by the airport and the Transport Ministry (SM) that the regulatory framework currently eliminates all problems related to the provision of taxi services at the airport. SM has yet to do “homework” to enable passengers at the airport to choose a safe and appropriate taxi service. For example, the auditors have indicated the possibility under the regulation to pay a taxi service with a prepaid voucher, which is not provided at the moment.
VK said that public transport should be the priority at a modern airport, but the infrastructure of the Rīga airport is designed so that the passenger should consider using a taxi as a priority. The situation should change significantly by building the new passenger terminal and connecting to Rail Baltica. However, taxi services will continue to play an important role in the airport area in the coming years.
The auditors pointed to the need to provide convenient taxi services for passengers who choose taxi services by using electronic means on-line via the website or mobile app. Action should be taken to avoid the risk that outside the taxi line, suppliers of services require a disproportionate fee after the journey from the passenger.
According to VK, the taxi service at the airport is directly linked to the country’s reputation.
“This is why, with the reduction in the number of flights and passengers caused by the pandemic, the airport management and the Ministry of Transport should do everything possible to finally put an end to the old story of the taxi “wars” and possible passenger fraud at Riga airport,” noted VK.
At the end of the audit, taking into account good practices of foreign airports, the State Audit Office recommended that the airport provide detailed information on the home page regarding carriers entitled to provide services on the airport taxi line, their appropriate tariffs, as well as the risks that passengers, including foreign guests, may face when choosing a taxi service provider.