Illegal taxis have long been a problem for the registered taxi drivers at and around the Alicante-Elche airport. They have spent years complaining and demanding that the authorities do something to stop ‘foreign’, unlicensed cars from ‘stealing’ their trade.

Up until now, it was the Local Police who were in charge of policing this problem, which they did by stopping cars who they thought were operating as illegal taxis and asking to see their license.

Now, however, the police have help at hand after the license plate readers installed at the entrance to the taxi lane at the airport began to function last week.

The device scans the license plates of the cars that pass through and sends the information to Local Police headquarters where the information is crosschecked with a database at the Central Administration office.

Not only is the number of visits to the Alicante-Elche airport recorded and checked, but so too are the tax and other documentation details.

Various bodies, including the General Transport Office (DGT) and the Taxis of Elche Association, have decided that any vehicle other than the legal taxi is only permitted to travel to the airport six times a month.

If this limit is exceeded, the DGT will open up a sanctioning case against the driver.

This system is already in use at the Barcelona-El Prat Airport and sources report that is has been successful in solving a “historic problem that has cost local taxi drivers a lot of money in lost fares”.

And, with only a week in operation, the Police in Elche have already intercepted a ‘pirate taxi’ driver when he dropped off a passenger at the airport last week.

The man of foreign nationality was surprised by the police after transporting a passenger in his own car from Alfaz de Pi to the airport and charging him 50 euro.

The man has been denounced and will have to follow a sanctioning procedure, which will most likely end up in a hefty fine.