A flash strike called by taxi drivers at the international and domestic airport on Friday morning fizzled out within two hours. They were protesting against the decision to allow private or long-distance taxi operators to operate from the prepaid taxi stand at the domestic airport.
To avoid conflict, the Mumbai-Pune Taxi Owners' Association, which was scheduled to inaugurate its domestic airport to Pune service on Friday, opened a separate counter.
Shankar R Shetty, general secretary of the association, said, "We were told that we shouldn't operate from the existing prepaid stand. We agreed and opened a separate counter. But the local taxi unions still went on strike. But we have got parking space now and have opened a temporary counter."
Although the strike caused a little chaos, the airport authorities were prepared and had already made arrangements for more cabs from fleet taxi operators.
"We had asked fleet cab operators such as Meru and Easy Cabs to provide more vehicles. Hence the protest hardly had any impact on traffic," said a Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) spokesperson.
Two buses were kept as standby, the spokesperson said.
However, AL Quadros, head of the Mumbai Taximen's Union, said they also wanted to ply to Pune, Nashik, Mahabaleshwar, Surat and other long-distance places. "The strike is to demand spot permits from the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Transport Authority for allowing us to ply long distances. If they can allow 300 taxis to ply from the domestic airport to Pune, then why has our five-year-old demand been overlooked?" he asked.
Despite several attempts, AN Bhalchandra, regional transport officer (RTO), Andheri, was not available for comment.