Uber strikes air­port deal

The Hutt News - - CONVERSATIONS - HAMISH RUTHER­FORD

Welling­ton has be­come the first air­port in New Zealand to strike a deal with ride-shar­ing com­pany Uber.

Uber’s driv­ers are now able to pick up and drop off rid­ers, freed from the lin­ger­ing threat of be­ing tres­passed.

Users can im­me­di­ately be­gin be­ing dropped off in the pub­lic drop-off zone out­side the air­port check-in area. A ded­i­cated pick-up zone for Uber driv­ers will be opened on the ground floor on Septem­ber 1.

The deal is hardly un­var­nished good news for users of the ser­vice, who will ef­fec­tively now face a price rise for rides which start or end at the air­port.

Uber will col­lect a $3 fee for all pick-ups and drop-offs on air­port prop­erty on be­half of the air­port com­pany.

For some, the deal may seem con­fus­ing, as users of the tech­nol­ogy com­pany, which has be­come a by-word for dig­i­tal dis­rup­tion, clearly al­ready use the ser­vice at the air­port.

But at air­ports in Auck­land, Welling­ton and Christchurch - the only cities in which Uber op­er­ates in New Zealand - the prac­tice is of­fi­cially for­bid­den.

Pas­sen­gers are of­ten forced to walk off air­port prop­erty, or at least to parts of the site which are less closely mon­i­tored, to be picked up, oth­er­wise the driv­ers risk fines or be­ing barred from the prop­erty.

Air­ports have blamed trans­port reg­u­la­tions for the im­passe, al­though op­po­si­tion from taxi com­pa­nies - which are un­der­stood to col­lec­tively pay mil­lions of dol­lars for de­fined ranks near ter­mi­nal ex­its - has also fea­tured in the ar­gu­ment.

In a state­ment, Welling­ton Air­port and Uber said the agree­ment fol­lowed the passing of the Land Trans­port Amend­ment Bill ear­lier in

‘‘This is a win for con­sumer choice, tourism and the Welling­ton trav­el­ling pub­lic.’’

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