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For the week of Apr. 5 through Apr. 11, 2000

Yellow Lab Cab operations suspended at airport


By KEVIN WISER
Express Staff Writer

Yellow Lab owner/operator Geoffrey SchultzYellow Lab owner/operator Geoffrey Schultz listens to alleged airport violations by Friedman Memorial Airport Authority. (Express photo by David N. Seelig)

Yellow Lab Cab, a local taxi company, has been suspended from operating at the Friedman Memorial Airport stemming from violations of the Hailey airfield’s regulations governing ground transportation services.

Yellow Lab’s suspension was effective immediately and will continue until June 6, at which time the company may apply for reinstatement.

During a special meeting on the issue by the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority on Thursday, airport manager Rick Baird cited a number of airport regulation violations made by Yellow Lab over the past year. They included handling luggage without the consent of the owner or authorization of the responsible airline; soliciting business inside the airport terminal; and engaging in profane shouting matches with employees of other cab companies.

The authority’s decision, following a two-hour special meeting, came on a 4-0 vote with one member absent. Baird, the airport manager, is not a board member.

Following an incident reported at the airport in January involving a dispute between Horizon Airlines and Schultz over the delivery of baggage, Baird wrote a letter to Yellow Lab owner and operator Geoffrey Schultz. In that letter, Baird told Schultz that cab companies are authorized to handle baggage only when the action is approved by either a passenger or air carrier.

"Any other situation during which you are in contact with baggage at the airport may be interpreted as unauthorized tampering with personal property," Baird wrote.

Schultz contended he has "always followed the direction of any airport employee and the airport management."

He said his handling of luggage was an attempt to be of service and help the airline.

Baird also said that in entering the terminal and attempting to solicit business, Schultz was in violation of an airport regulation that states that cab drivers shall remain in the immediate vicinity of their vehicle in the ground transportation service parking area.

Baird said that shouting matches between Schultz and other cab drivers over the positioning of cabs in the taxi parking area was in violation of another regulation section stating that "ground transportation service employees shall conduct themselves in a courteous, business-like fashion."

Schultz said jockeying for position at the ground transportation service parking area with other cab companies was the crux of his problems at the airport.

In handing down the decision to suspend Yellow Lab’s permit, board member Chris Warton said the airport authority hasn’t heard many complaints over the last year that didn’t involve Yellow Lab.

"There was never such a problem at the airport until Yellow Lab came along," Warton said.

Board member Susan McBryant described Schultz’ actions as "a continuing pattern of frustration and violation."

Board member Martha Burke said it was important to the panel that Yellow Lab provide the best service possible at the airport and conduct business in a professional manner.

As for confrontations with other cab companies, Burke said Schultz’ "frustration is understandable on the playground but not in the business arena."

"We’re very serious about the service provided and what goes on at the airport," Burke said.

Schultz was told that any further violations of airport regulations would result in immediate revocation for the remainder of year.

The city of Ketchum is also investigating complaints filed against Yellow Lab and has scheduled an April 20 meeting to determine if there is cause to revoke Yellow Lab’s permit to operate in Ketchum.

Ketchum Police Chief Cal Nevland said his office has received complaints that Yellow Lab is in violation of its franchise agreement with the city of Ketchum. The complaints, Nevland said, allege that Yellow Lab is not consistently running three cabs as required by the franchise agreement and that the cab company’s fares are inconsistent.

In an interview, Schultz called those allegations "preposterous" and said they appeared to be part of a "witch hunt."

 

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