Hackney cab drivers have called on Gatwick to give customers a choice by opening taxi ranks at the airport.
Amin Mirza, chairman of the Hackney Carriage Association (HCA), said he feared regulations restricting his drivers from picking up at the airport could see cabbies out of a job.
Mr Mirza pointed out cab drivers were licensed to pick up and drop off passengers anywhere in the borough – and the airport lays within the borough boundary.
Calling on Crawley Borough Council to look into the matter, he said: “This is our major issue – that Hackney Carriage drivers think they are missing their rights to have access to Gatwick.
“I think it’s about time the local authority looked at the matter very seriously otherwise we will lose this trade and we may not have many cabbies – they will be out of a job.
“Are they going to stick to the regulations or not?”
The airport runs one rank, which is used exclusively by one firm, and has been rigidly enforcing its ‘no picking up” rule for other cabbies.
Anyone not wishing to use the approved company must arrange for a taxi to pick them up in the airport’s car park.
Mr Mirza said it would be fairer for customers and his drivers if the airport opened ranks for all cabbies at both the North and South Terminals.
He added: “Gatwick always wants something but they don’t give much. Our great concern is the future of Hackney carriages is very dark.”
Conservative parliamentary candidate Henry Smith threw his support behind the HCAs cause.
He said: “I think Crawley Hackney cab drivers should be able to pick up and collect from Gatwick. It’s part of the borough of Crawley, so it’s fair that Crawley drivers have that option. It’s also important passengers have a choice.”
Tony Baldock, the council’s environmental health manager, said the authority had no power to insist ranks were installed at Gatwick. He added: “Gatwick Airport is subject to a set of airport by-laws which differentiate this location to other parts of the borough in regards to normal highway rules. This would, I suspect, include Hackney Carriages being hailed.”
Mr Baldock said the council liaised with the airport “on a regular basis” about such matters.
He added: “Gatwick, though, have refused to let them do so.”
A Gatwick spokesman said: “The land and roads running through Gatwick are private property.
“The roads fall under highways rules and regulations which clearly prohibit vehicles from picking up unless approved and licensed by Gatwick Airport limited as per the approved taxi rank tendered by the airport.”