Airports of Thailand (AOT) is in discussions with Grab to use their services to alleviate taxi shortages at two airports in the nation. Grab cabs have never been allowed at airports, but the number of people waiting is getting out of hand.
Now that the busy season is here, there aren't enough airport taxis to meet the growing number of arrivals at Bangkok's international airports, Suvarnabhumi Airport and Don Mueang Airport.
Nitinai Sirisatthakarn, the president of AOT, reports that just 500 of the 2,500 taxis registered at Don Mueang Airport are in operation. At Suvarnabhumi Airport, only about half of the 5,000 registered taxis work, so people have to wait for a long time.
Nitinai said, "Currently, there is a taxi shortage. Don Mueang Airport is easily seen. On some days, we need 700 cabs, but only 500 are available. Due of heavy city traffic, taxis cannot return to the airport quickly. We are unable to accommodate demand."
Nitinai said that the AOT would suggest hiring Grab taxis to alleviate the shortfall. The president said that the taxi drivers who are already registered at airports will be a part of the talks to find a solution to the problem.
AOT is also exploring using more modern technologies to manage congestion at the two airports' immigration counters. Although immigration officials at Suvarnabhumi Airport spend only 45 seconds reviewing each incoming foreigner's documentation, travellers can wait hours to gain entry into the country.
Nitinai said that technology might be used to assess patients early in their travel so that immigration personnel could be better prepared. If immigration knows exactly how many people are coming and when, more airport workers and booths could be set up during peak travel times.
The Airport Rail Link is the quickest and most cost-effective way to get into the city from Suvarnabhumi Airport. Depending on the station, it costs between 15 and 45 baht, however, an airport cab may cost approximately 500 baht and take significantly longer.
Last week, over 800 Grab delivery drivers rallied in Bangkok to protest the company's new restrictions. Grab has said that they would react to the delivery driver's requests within two weeks.