Taxi drivers get Cabildo backing for immediate clampdown on “airport runs” in tourist areas

Update 28 September 2015: Police say that as a result of the Cabildo’s clampdown over the past two years, some 200 illegal taxi run “businesses” have been fined through coordinated action by the Guardia Civil, local police and work inspectors. The fines, averaging two a week, have primarily involved car and minibus airport transfers from TFS Reina Sofia, and have ranged between €1.000 and €4,600. Police remind the public that official taxis from the airport are the only legal form of taxi transfer, that journeys by other operators, even those who call themselves “friends” and who often strive to appear normal and legal, are not only illegal but uninsured … and that the campaign against illegal airport runs continues.

Original post 30 October 2013: The Tenerife Cabildo has committed itself today to helping the taxi sector, and in a meeting held in Santa Cruz has agreed an action plan, to be put into place immediately, against “unfair competition”. After the meeting, between the Cabildo and representatives of taxi drivers from the main tourist municipalities, the Cabildo said that it will strengthen its inspections, and create permanent collaborative protocols involving local police and the relevant Ayuntamientos. A technical committee is also being established to notify the industry of all records affecting them, and to oversee training for inspection and disciplinary procedures: the committee will meet weekly, and start immediately. Between them, they say they are determined to get tough against uninsured and illegal airport transfers and the like.



  1. If you know of someone running one of these illegal airport transfers using their private “for pleasure ” not business car, who can you report it to?

    1. Author

      You would be best to denounce it to the Guardia Civil, ideally the ones stationed in TFS itself.

  2. It’s about time Spain adhered to the laws set out by the EU and make it easier for people to set up businesses and apply for licenses. I would love to set up in Tenerife offering airport transfers just as I do in the UK. Spain only want to take what suits them from the EU and carry on ignoring what others would like. This attitude is the main reason the Spanish economy
    Is in such a bad way.

  3. It’s the last time I visit Tenerife. We used a Taxi every night and was charged different every time. If you budget for Taxis triple it ! On realising we watched the drivers fiddle with the meters and guess what, each time the price increased. If you ask them why, they start arguing. That’s it for me I won’t holiday there again it spoilt our holiday knowing all the time we were being ripped off and there is nothing you can do about it.

    1. Author

      You can do something about it, though, Sue, you can demand a receipt, and take the taxi number, and report it.

  4. Just to let you know that I have just used this Company and can thoroughly recommend them. We were a party of eight females. The driver was waiting for us at the airport and we paid the fare to him. He escorted us to a very nice Mercedes Benz minibus and dropped us off at our various locations. They were there to pick us up on time for our return journey and the whole experience was pleasant and efficient. None of the usual erratic driving where you normally spend the whole of the journey with your hands covering your eyes. When I travel to our apartment with my husband we normally hire a car but for a large group of passengers this was an economical way of travelling. We had our usual fare discrepancy with two taxis while we were there. We picked up two taxis to take us to the same location and were charged two different prices. The taxi I was in “accidentally” knocked the price off his meter and charged us over 2 euros more than was originally showing. A fare of 4.25 became 7. It is no wonder that people get the wrong impression of Tenerife. I know that i should have reported him but it is one of the reasons we normally hire a car instead of using the taxis.

  5. Oh and if your destination is not on their list just email them with you details, flight number, date and time of arrival and destination and they will give you a quote. You can book and get a confirmation e-mail. That’s what I did.

  6. Yes, we’ve experienced a wide range of drivers on Tenerife. This year we have booked a taxi from TFS with

    The price is agreed in advance and you pay at their office in the airport so no possibility of pushing some extra buttons on the meter. If you get good service you can tip the driver. If you get poor service you can com plain to the company. Fingers crossed.

  7. A percentage of Tenerife Taxi Drivers have gone a long way to create this problem themselves, by driving like maniacs and hitting the magic button at the end of a trip, a lot of tourists are relucant to use them because of past experience, hence opening the door to ‘a friend can drop you off’
    the cabildo needs to regulate some of these cowboys first, making them wear blue shirts isnt enough, speeding, overcharging and a surly attitude, address this and it will go a long way toward eradicating the illegal drivers.

  8. I am not defending the Taxi drivers, they are mostly bandits and do rip off the tourists. But this is not unique to Tenerife, it’s worldwide. They do perhaps hold to much sway with the authorities, but then, so do many of the old style unions. It will all change same as it did in the UK, but of course being Spain a lot slower. Unlicensed taxis are a huge problem at many airports with dedicated squads just trying to keep them out. It hasn’t yet got that bad in Tenerife

  9. IDBI: ” I am sure if anybody wanted to providing they followed the rules they could could set up a car hire business”

    Yes , just as anyone can set up a hotel, apartment complex, taxi etc etc if they follow the rules……..

  10. Wasn’t it the Taxi Driver Mafiosa that had the famous Airport Bus from Adeje area to Airport stopped as it affected their livelihood?

  11. John how can you say it is a protected market, I am sure if anybody wanted to providing they followed the rules they could could set up a car hire business in fact I know somebody who has locally or operate as a legal taxi. Your last two sentences I just do not understand the point you are making.

  12. The taxi drivers have had a list of car registration numbers,drivers names and NIE’s for four years,the problem now id that there are so many people without work who have joined the ranks of illegal taxi drivers that it’s difficult to keep track.Many of these people hire cars on the busy days and just spend the day doing transfers to and from the airports hoping that the car can’t be traced to them.It is unfair competition but some of the taxi drivers leave a lot to be desired, as many of the old school of taxi drivers will tell you.They don’t like the cheating drivers any more than the public do as they all get tarred with the same brush.

  13. same as beer…… I can go for a beer in a bar, or a restaurant, or buy one from a shop and drink it at home…… I can’t buy them off unlicenced street vendors…..

  14. IDBI: what you’re describing isn’t a free market, you’re describing “choice”. You are using one protected market (rent a car) to avoid using another protected market (taxi – both car and minibus)…
    there are choices in all of the protected markets you referenced:
    Taxis: you can use licensed taxis, mini buses, buses etc – not private unlicenced taxis.
    Accommodation: you can use all licensed accommodation; apartments, hotels, pensiones etc…. you can’t use private unlicenced accommodation.
    Rent a car: You can use all licensed forms of car/van rental, EG hertz, tenerife rent a car, avis etc….. not private unlicensed rentals.
    you can choose to avoid using one of the above by using another, for example you can avoid usin taxis and mini bus tranfers by renting a car as you described in your example….
    Or you can avoid paying for a hotel by sleeping in a rent a car….
    Or you can avoid renting a car by paying for a taxi….

  15. I know what you mean Janet but surely people found within the terminal building itself whilst running an illegal ‘taxi’ service can be deemed as committing an offence inside the airport? Or are we saying this practice is not in itself an illegal offence?

    1. Author

      Not sure about that Ray … but at the least I would have thought that details would be taken and then passed on to the police “outside” rather than dealt with inside the airport, where they’re dealing with drug smuggling, potential security breaches, etc.

  16. Maybe like the Hotel lobby the taxi drivers should not just look at the illegal actions why they are loosing customers they should look at what they charge. That is why companies like El Mar,Sun Holidays and many others have been successful. I used to use these companies but again because of a open market I can now hire a car for the day which allows me to drive to my property go to the supermarket the next day load up and then return the car I can also do this in reverse to the airport this is totally legal. It is called a free market and price will always prevail.

  17. Author

    because this is a Cabildo-Ayuntamiento push to help the cabbies, not concerning the airport Guardia Civil and Nationals, who are policing for quite different – security or drugs type – offences inside the airport.

  18. I agree Janet but if you go to TFS you will always see a large quantity of nice shiny coaches getting packed full of people. Presumably holiday makers on their way to AI etc hotels/resorts. This seems to be the norm nowadays and, lets face it, it is a sensible way to transport people from A to B and is often expected by clients as part of a package holiday deal.

    When we first moved here, some 9 years ago, the picture was very different, coaches seemed to be much fewer in number and the taxis were piled outside the terminal building.

    That’s why I questioned what the taxi drivers true complaint/grievance is here and I now think it is really to do with the coaches and other legit services more than anything else. If that is the case then they should not get help or sympathy from any quarter.

    If I am wrong, and it’s primarily the illegal stuff, then why cant the police be used to challenge any suspicious persons waiting around in the arrivals area. I often see them in the terminal.

  19. Author

    To try to head off this post turning into an illegal letting discussion, I have to say that the taxi drivers have been banging this drum for many years, and it is only now that they’ve really managed to get official backing in any meaningful and practical sense, so no, it’s not a recent reaction to reduced business caused by the illegal letting clampdown.
    None the less, I think you can take it that there is increased concern right now, but this could just as well be because there is increased illegal competition, as that there are fewer passengers! Many people are now driven into the black economy because they cannot find work, or cannot afford to work legally … and many of these do “airport runs”, whether solely or as part of a range of other under-the-counter activities.
    It’s a far wider economic issue than just illegal letting. The real issue for me, though, is that of insurance. Black economies are going nowhere, are they? They are everywhere and even the healthiest economies will have illegal economic undercurrents. With illegal transfers, though, people could be killed or receive life-changing injuries, leaving them or their families without any financial assistance at all because on investigating a claim, the insurance is deemed to be invalid. I myself would never risk it in a million years.

  20. If you read my posts correctly I have never suggested breaking the law, In fact I said I supported the Taxi owners. What I am against is people taking the law into their own hands,that is what the first post on this subject is about and nowhere in Europe allows that either.
    It appears that in Tenerife to have family or friends either to stay in your property or even collect or take them to the airport is dangerous you could be seriously be fined or even get you car smashed up.
    Also as the illegal letting situation has been raised on this post I wonder if anybody has any comments about the Tourist figures or the only area in Spain to have an increase in unemployment.
    I hope the Government look at this situation very closely, yes they had a small increase in 5*AI occupancy in the summer peak period, but lets be honest most of their competitors other holiday destinations were either in economic melt down or suffering almost civil war.
    You only have to look at other sites where people who do not want to come for 3 months (long term) but maybe 2/4/6/8/10 weeks can not find accommodation, in business terms this is shooting yourself in the foot. No licences have been given since 1995 yet in the area of the West coast which was developed for Tourism, the 3 resorts have only 14 legal complexes, yet the development of the whole area has at least doubled in that time. They have built new hotels also, but people want a CHOICE if the Government want to bring down the unemployment figures and get the economy kick started they must look at the situation as a whole and not just be led by the Hotel lobby looking at their profits only

  21. Given that there probably has always been an element of pirate illegal taxi transfers down the years, we have to ask either the pirates have multiplied in number of late ? Or is there summer 2013 a significant decline in taxi customers from the airport to the resorts?
    The legal taxi drivers are fully entitled to demand action against the pirate taxis to protect their livelihoods , but is their problem today more to do with a lack of customers? Surely taxi airport customers are largely self catering apartment tourists? Whereas hotel customers transfer by coach. Given the well publicised govt attack on apartment rentals in the islands are the taxi drivers now experiencing a shortfall in trade due to the govt crackdown on rentals?

  22. IDBI, I don’t agree with over regulation but in this case if people are taking passengers to and from the airport in vehicles that will be declared uninsured in the event of an accident then I support any reasonable steps to protect people.

  23. What ever happened to freedom of choice, I thought that this was one of the reasons all Countries formed the EU. But because some small Islands are allowed to throw the rule book away, I know from my own experience, this has not helped the local indigenous people, but we are supposed to agree with it, no wonder certain parties in the UK are gathering support to leave the EU. It has to be a level playing field for every one, Utopia NO, common sense YES

    1. Author

      IDBI, it’s a licence thing …. and just like illegal letting, it’s people operating in the black economy …
      Nowhere in Europe allows that.

  24. I read an article on this in one of the local free rags. One para says:

    The taxi sector claims that there are countless cases of intrusion made by private vehicles, leisure and recreation, hotels, and other transport companies who, they say: “Ignore the regulations and roam around the whole Island without anyone put a stop to their activities.”

    I’m not sure what is meant by ‘roaming around the island’ but is this piece correct – are the taxi drivers really up in arms about hotels and other transport companies making airport transfers? If they are then I do not support their views. Sure, illegals are one matter but bonafide operators who happen not to drive in white cars cannot be classed as ‘unfair competition’. And, at the end of the day, if all inclusive resorts and 5* facilities want to use alternative (and may be superior) forms of transport for their paying guests, then surely they are in their rights to use any legitimate means open to them.

    In my personal opinion, there are just too many taxi drivers here and a cull is needed anyway (and some additional driving lessons for those behind the wheel of these white cabs).

  25. On reading the first post, I noticed that the “misunderstanding” came from the driver not knowing Spanish. A lot of these problems could be prevented by us Brits learning elementary Spanish. My husband and I have had lessons for 2 years and had no problem when once stopped by the Guardia Civil.

  26. Yes, point taken Tenerife Resident. I do understand.

    IDBI are you always this harsh? …everybody is entitled to a point of view based on their experience.

  27.,” what an apt name”, you must be one of the ones that is driving down the unemployment figures there, or are they incorrect, like the many actions the people in power have taken, and are now seeing the truth come to light after the main holiday period. I do not agree with the taxi owners loosing their fares but like the fining of misled & unsuspecting owners renting, this is a sledge hammer to crack a NUT

  28. Yeap I know that but is the police man or inspector going to believe me and / or my customer/s. Why would they, fine me now and ask questions later. How embarrassing is that going to be in front of my client. I know I am getting nothing for it but they are going to be out to fine people and get results. Regardless.

  29. hahaha 🙂
    If you’re not charging for the service you provide, why would you worry.

  30. Author

    You are not donig anything wrong! It’s very simple. Are you offering a service to the public? No. So no problem!

  31. I am lucky enough to work for a UK company remotely here in Tenerife doing export business. Frequently I have clients that come here for business from all over Europe and the world to discuss our products and go through the range we offer. I get them from the airport and take them back because that is what they expect, it would be rude for me to say grab a cab ! They of course do not pay me anything for this it is to promote sales and is just courteous. The same as when I go and visit clients in Spain or somewhere else in Europe they come and collect me and take me back. Now I am nervous to say the least ! Is there not a body that you can go to and say look this is what I do, am I doing anything wrong and how can I go about being stopped, fined and probably jailed ! Maybe I am not allowed to do this but I cannot see anything wrong with it. I would appreciate anyones comments please. Apart from as no doubt I will be swinging from the gallows lol !!!

  32. yes, and we employ some of them too.
    I’m only cynical that having licenses, being legally registered, insured etc doesn’t actually mean much.

  33. How cynical, I wonder if is first in line to help out the many locals that have been made unemployed by the governments pushed by the Hotel lobbies actions.

  34. well said indeed.
    It seems illegal lettings and these taxi pick ups go hand in hand, they do on our complex. Its an attempt to hide the arrival of holidaymakers …who are cleverly disguised as ‘friends & family’

  35. Quite right Simon, well said.

  36. @David Wood, so what’s wrong with businesses trying to protect their income? They have to buy, service, licence, insure and fuel their taxis and then compete against people who have no licenses, and don’t pay taxes on the money they charge for the airport runs they do. What happens if they have an accident and kill someone…?

    I certainly don’t agree with what happened to the first poster regarding having his car done over, but I certainly feel for the businesses that are doing an honest job and paying their dues, be it tax or running and investing in their business in some other way and then have to compete with others that just pop up over night, no investment, very little to no knowledge and then when the going gets tough or they see another way to make an easy buck they latch on to that too.

    Good luck to the taxi drivers.

  37. I thought Fidel Castro had died!

  38. Author

    Yes, that’s exactly it, Stewart. It’s illegal to run it as a “service”, but just as with the illegal lettings, “private use” is absolutely fine.

  39. Presumably this is aimed at people who are charging folk for pickups and drop offs at the airport who are not legal taxi drivers. If I pick my friends up from the airport without charging them I’m OK?

  40. You should all think very carefully here !!! six years ago I was on holiday in Tenerife for two months, I hired a vehicle off TRC which was an unmarked Citron C3, during my holiday my brother came over to stay with me and I collected him from the south airport and returned him back there for his flight home the day before I was due to leave myself, at the airport we got a lot of abuse in Spanish from a Taxi driver which we did not understand and just thought he was having a go at us for pulling into the drop off lay-by at the airport, after dropping my brother off both the taxi driver that we had the problem with and one other taxi driver then followed me back to the resort where I was staying, I was due to leave at 5am the following morning and had arranged to leave the hire car outside our local bar and leave the keys in the bar for collection by TRC the following day, at 2pm the following day when I was back in the UK I received a telephone call from TRC saying that the hire car I had left in good condition had been smashed up and the tyres slashed, TRC took a lot of money out of my bank account for the repairs as they had my credit card details on there books, I was later advised by our Spanish relatives that live near San Miguel that the Taxi drivers had done my car over as they thought I was doing airport runs, if thats the way they do business then all I can say is its a hard life, I have never hired a Taxi or used TRC since this incident took place.

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