The Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce has urged the operator of the Saskatoon International Airport to withdraw its injunction against a city taxi company, saying that the social and economic damages will be severe.
“Saskatoon’s businesses, and economy, cannot afford the time it will take to litigate these matters,” a statement from the Chamber read. “The workers and businesses that rely on accessible, reliable and efficient ground transportation to and from the airport deserve better.
The Saskatoon Airport Authority won an injunction against Riide Tuesday, limiting the company’s access the airport.
The dispute came after Riide refused to join the airport’s curbside licensing program, resulting in the banning of the company from airport pick-ups and drop-offs at airport entrances.
Riide said it will be the customers who suffer.
“I know we are going to have some problems, because people get into our cabs, and they don’t always tell us where they are going to go before they get in,” Riide president and CEOScott Suppes said.
“I know that is going to be an issue when we tell them, ‘Oh sorry, we can’t take you to the airport.'”
The Chamber’s statement said the consequences will be severe “for 297 drivers and their families who rely on paying customers to support their livelihoods, 88 per cent of whom identify as newcomers and/or visible minorities looking to gain experience and a foothold in our workforce.”
It said the decision will undermine the city’s reputation as “open for business” and shut down opportunities for trade, business development, and economic activities.
It also noted that Riide holds 17 of the city’s 26 wheelchair plates.
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The Chamber said that if someone would like a Riide taxi to the airport, the taxi can drop travellers off at the “public curb” close to the entrance.
Riide cannot be used for pick-up.
Suppes said the company plans to fight the injunction and is disappointed Saskatoon’s Airport Authority (SAA) is unwilling to negotiate, despite the 50-year business relationship with his company.
The SAA said all commercial transportation operators need to be licensed and that all commercial operators are required to remit fees back to the airport, which directly support curbside operations and training programs.
According to SAA, in August 2020, Riide’s existing licence with the airport expired.
“Riide chose not to renew their license with the airport as we moved to an open license format with multiple operators to better serve our customers,” SAA said in a statement.
“The SAA has made several attempts over the past three years to bring Riide back to the airport as a licensed operator without success.”
“Since August 2020, Riide has continued to operate on airport property unlicensed, meaning they are not remitting any collected fees to the airport, which has undermined the integrity of our commercial program, to which four other taxi operators are currently participating and abiding.”
The airport said customers can continue to use the four licensed operators at the airport which include Captain Taxi, Hey Taxi, Comfort Cabs and Radio Cabs, as well as Uber and city bus service.