Toronto Airport Wins 24-Hour Injunction Against Picketing Taxi and Limo Drivers

TORONTO (CP) -- Toronto's airport authority was granted a 24-hour injunction Tuesday afternoon to stop a protest by taxi and limo drivers, avoiding a repeat of Monday's gridlock nightmare around Pearson International Airport.

Lawyers for the Greater Toronto Airports Authority and Air Canada had filed the injunction in a Brampton, Ont., court, citing concern for the safety of passengers.

Taxi and limo service continued uninterrupted Tuesday, but drivers still picketed in their designated parking lot.

Monday's protest caused police to close a portion of the busy Highway 427 and forced many frustrated travellers and flight crews to scramble on foot to the terminals to catch their flights.

Rajinder Singh, president of the Airport Taxi-Cab Association, said his group would respect the injunction ruling until it could appeal Wednesday morning in a Brampton court.

''We never break the law,'' he said. ''We are not going to break the law in the future.''

The drivers want the authority to grant new limousine licences on the basis of seniority.

Under the current arrangement, the authority issues limo licences to companies that submit proposals.

''They are giving them away to their buddies,'' Singh said.

Vijay Sopti, spokesman for the association, said the pickets will return to clog airport roads if the injunction is lifted.

''We will inform the authorities ... and every concern before we start any protest in the future, whenever we are allowed to do it,'' he said.

Greater Toronto Airports Authority spokeswoman Connie Turner would not comment on the airport's contingency plans if the injunction is lifted.

She advised passengers travelling Wednesday to listen to news reports for advisories and allow themselves more time to get to the airport.

Federal Transport Minister Jean Lapierre said he was monitoring the dispute, adding he could understand passengers' frustrations.

''If I were a passenger, I'd be mad,'' he said Tuesday from Ottawa. ''I can understand that it's disruptive. It's already complicated to travel by plane because of security concerns and what have you.''

Singh had earlier vowed the pickets would block traffic into the airport every weekday until the airport authority satisfies his group's demands.