Airports struggle with Uber

  • 15/04/2016

By Sophie Boot

New Zealand's airports are working increasingly hard to make Uber drivers pay to pick up passengers as some flout the rules designed to keep them out.

At Auckland and Wellington airports some Uber drivers pick up passengers outside the terminal though they're not permitted to do so without an airport licence.

Drivers have told passengers to exit the airport and be picked up just outside the gates, using areas other than the designated pick-up zones to avoid detection. Uber drivers are permitted to drop passengers off without being licensed.

Auckland International Airport's general manager of retail and commercial, Richard Barker, said the airport is aware of drivers continuing to pick up passengers without permission, and it's talking to Uber to try and deal with the issue.

In March, the airport said the expiry of its current taxi licensing agreement provided an opportunity to change the way transport services are provided to and from the airport, with taxis waiting for passengers losing ground to Uber, SkyBus and pre-booked cabs.

"A primary aim of the new taxi tender is to create a level playing field for operators, which will create greater price consistency and value for money for customers," Barker said.

The airport sees Uber fitting into the pre-chartered taxi category, where drivers would be subject to the same charges and annual registration fees as taxis which wait in the forecourt.

Uber declined to comment, but its website advises Wellington drivers the airport doesn't allow Uber pick-ups unless the driver has pre-charter registration.

A spokesperson for Wellington Airport said there were a number of Uber drivers licensed to operate at the airport, but it was not currently negotiating with Uber about increased access.

The New Zealand Taxi Federation's Roger Heale said all drivers should pay the same fee to pick passengers up from the airport.

"If you pick up and drop off commercially, there's a barrier fee and that should be paid by everyone," Heale said.

Uber launched in Christchurch in March. A spokesperson for Christchurch Airport said Uber was not currently licenced for the airport, but the companies were in discussions.