Airport Commission rules Radio Cab keeps exclusive airport contract this Masters Week

By: Jonathan Martin
By: Jonathan Martin

Tensions ran high at Augusta's Aviation Commission today as cab companies tried to drive home a point.

They say one taxi service has a monopoly on people flying in to the garden city, and with Masters Week approaching, they want it to come to a stop.

It sparked a big debate at yesterday's Augusta Commission meeting, and today it was an even bigger issue before the Airport Commission.

Independent cab companies say an exclusive contract is just not fair.

The question comes down to who will be able to work at the airport during Masters Week.

Right now all you see there are Radio Cabs. That's because they have an exclusive contract with the airport.

Is it fair to change that contract so others can get some of the business during the Masters?

That was exactly what the Airport Commission had to decide.

"So now we're at the airport and y'all are telling us this isn't the time or place...where is the time and where is the place?" asked Cynthia Jackson.

The independent cab owner and other taxi drivers say all they want is a fair share.

"Is it fair to me? No, that's going to make me very mad," Jackson said.

For the past 20 years, Radio Cab has held an exclusive contract with the airport that renews itself every 60 days.

This means that they are the only company allowed to work from the airport.

Most other cities' airports do not have such agreements.

And with Master's Week just days away, the other cab companies say it's time they get a piece of the pie.

Board members agreed the contract is not fair, but had mixed feelings about changing it right before the big week.

"To burden the staff with having to police this situation and changing the rules this close to Masters is absurd," said airport commissioner Chris Cunningham.

"We're going to allow one week where everybody can make a little money and just let it go," said commissioner Sheila Paulk.

It seemed there was a compromise. Radio Cab owner David Fields agreed to allow other companies to work from the airport...but only when his cabs are not present. It's a generous move, if you ask him.

"They got business and this was my business, this is what we get for working here the other 51 weeks out of the year," Fields said.

But his generosity was not good enough for the other taxi companies and some airport commissioners who say first come first serve is the only fair way.

If you're going to go by the stand, you got to go by the stand. It's next in line and that eliminates discussion. If that doesn't work, we don't need to be talking about modifying because we're opening up too many possibilities for too many problems," said commissioner Lourdes Neely-Coleman.

"We're going to have to bite the bullet and so will they. We've had enough. If they want to come out, they don't have priority," said commissioner Birney Silverstein.

After the debate, the commission voted. Five voted to allow other companies to work here, and five voted to keep things the way they are.

Board Chairman Cedric Johnson had to break the tie, and his decision was to keep things the way they are until the contract is over.

So for this Masters, radio cab will be the only company allowed to pick up from this airport.


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