Uber at airports; TNCs, airport policies and the issues surrounding them: CAPA Survey


Many readers of this report will have travelled in a motor vehicle operating under the auspices of a Transportation Network Company (TNC). They are becoming as popular as taxis and mini-cabs in cities around the world, and some of the brand names – notably Uber - have entered the popular lexicon. As these services are summoned up through a smart phone app or similar device, the ease of booking has increased their popularity. Naturally, people use TNCs to travel to and from airports. But some of their operating practices conflict with those of airports, and that is becoming increasingly more apparent.

The purpose of this report is to present some background information on TNCs, their modus operandi and how they are evolving. The results of a CAPA survey into airport attitudes to TNCs are also exposed, along with a catalogue of recent news items collated by CAPA, giving insights into some of the issues airports are dealing with in their relations with the TNCs.

Transportation Network Companies, or TNCs, are a very rapidly growing invention of this decade, and one that was inevitable; the marriage of modern information technologies with not-so-modern surface transport business models such as taxis and minicabs. Arising out of California, where the local Public Utilities Commission (PUC) was the first to define TNCs in 2013, their operations are referred to these days as ‘ride-sourcing’, rather than ‘ride-sharing,’ which was the first label applied to them.

Unlike with ride (or car) – sharing, there is no planned-for reduction in vehicle trips, congestion or emissions. In fact they are more likely to add to it.

The TNCs merely provide an online ‘marketplace’ via a computing platform, and it could be argued that they are the ‘virtual airlines’ of their business. Typically, all they own is the technology behind the app and an administrative building to work out of, not the vehicles, and they don’t usually have drivers who are legally employees.

Uber and its brands is the market leader

The best known TNC is Uber (incorporating UberX, UberPOP, UberBlack, UberExec, UberSUV and other Uber brands). Uber was launched in 2009 and claims to be the first, eventually active in 58 countries and 300 cities worldwide by Jun-2015. Uber is investing USD1 billion in China in 2015, to operate in 50 cities.

But Uber is not the only one. Other TNCs include Lyft, Sidecar, Wingz (which specialises in airport rides as the name suggests), Summon and Haxi, along with Didi Kuaidi in China, Grab Taxi in Singapore. These are merely a few of many such operators, some of them established in just one country, and others in many.

Remarkably, every single one of the companies mentioned above, apart from Haxi, originated in and is headquartered in San Francisco. The northern Californian city has become to TNCs what Montreal is to aviation, and Rome to religion. One of the British variants, Hailo, is backed by Virgin Atlantic’s Sir Richard Branson.

The TNC business model enables the general public to ‘summon up‘ a vehicle using an online-enabled platform, such as a smart phone application (app), to connect with drivers who use their own non-commercial vehicles. Clearly this activity, which comes directly into competition with owners and drivers of vehicles that are commercially registered (taxis, minicabs/minibuses etc.) was initially unregulated, and in many cases still is.

In California, where the authorities must have considered themselves overwhelmed by the TNC phenomenon, such companies were originally grouped into the same category as limousines before acquiring their own category, one that taxi industry groups opposed as being illegal.

There has been a robust backlash from regular taxi-cab firms

The dramatic growth of TNCs elsewhere in the world has brought about similar reactions from established taxi firms, for example in Europe, where taxi strikes and ‘go-slows’ have taken place in many cities. This is especially so in the UK, where the licensed ‘hackney carriage’ (black cab) – which can be hailed on the street, as well as being pre-booked - has had a virtual monopoly in many major city centres for decades.

In London, a well-reported altercation took place one night in the summer of 2015 between the Mayor – who seems to support the TNCs – and a Black Cab driver, couched in language one might not expect to hear in the street from a senior politician.  

In fairness, the Black Cab drivers do have a point. In order to qualify for their licence they have to undertake a gruelling three year-long absorption of geographical information, known as ‘the knowledge,’ followed by an even more demanding test. It would not be far off the mark to compare it with a university degree for those of a non-academic disposition, and one that was supposed to ensure a ‘job for life.’

  • The cabs must be insured; they are officially designated ‘safe’;
  • they can all take at least five passengers;
  • there is almost always one close by, waiting for new business (unless it is raining);
  • they must have disabled access;
  • there is a privacy partition; the drivers details are visible to all passengers, and
  • there is no access by the driver to telephone numbers or to personal financial information (unless the passenger opts to pay by credit card, which some Black Cabs permit). 

Furthermore, while the cabs themselves are very still expensive to acquire (along with the licence to drive them), it is claimed that the ‘fare wars’ that have erupted during the last year have brought the Black Cab minimum charge down to half the price of a typical TNC fare.

TNCs benefit from their high-tech appeal, to the young and the trendy

But this is 2015, and a smart phone-obsessed public has been so quick to respond to the TNCs’ here-and-now convenience offer that the luddite-like (traditional?) Hackney Cab business and, to a lesser degree, the minicab one, hidebound by working practices that are close to a century old, were painfully slow to respond to the challenge. It must also be said, although this comment mainly concerns London, that many members of the public – especially tourists – have been more than happy to give a chance to a driver who might be a recent immigrant from a distant and war-torn country and earning less than the minimum wage, This, rather than to an archetypally tetchy Black Cab driver with an opinion on everything, even if the recent immigrant sometimes does not have much of an idea where he or she is going.

In California the Public Utilities Commission has at least attempted to introduce regulations governing TNC services, regulations that really should be the benchmark elsewhere.  These include driver background checks (vetting), driver training, drug and alcohol policies, minimum insurance coverage of USD1 million, and company licensing through the PUC.

All airports will be exposed to TNCs eventually

Many taxi journeys take place from and to airports so it was inevitable, sooner rather than later, that the industry would have to confront the TNCs, their working practices, and their influence on more established transport modes.

In addition to all the reasons hinted at previously, there can scarcely be an airport operator - in the developed world at least - that does not have a policy geared towards getting more air passengers onto public transport on the ground, and away from private vehicles.

Such is the price of co-operation with the environmental lobby, which can seriously influence the prospects of a new runway or extension of an existing one.

San Diego – an interesting benchmark case

One airport that CAPA has become aware of in this respect is San Diego, in the southernmost part of the same state where the TNC revolution began – California.

It appears that much of the news reporting in the US on this subject to date has been predicated on the assumption that ‘government’ (local/county/state/federal) is attempting to protect the taxicab industry. Unlike his London counterpart, New York’s Mayor de Blasio is regarded as having taken the side of the New York taxicab industry in their battle with the TNCs.

As a result a number of airports, including San Diego, chose to meet with TNCs such as Uber and Lyft to discuss issues, mano a mano.

The objectives may be summarised thus: 

  • To ensure there is insurance in place;
  • To require payment of fees to cover actual costs of airport infrastructure and regulation (usually the airport does not have taxing power, as is the case with San Diego);
  • To ensure all drivers are licensed after a valid background check;
  • To ensure the vehicles used in the business are safe and registered;
  • To have some way of identifying the vehicles;
  • To agree upon airport operating areas and procedures.

San Diego Airport was not opposed to this new type of service, provided Uber and the other companies met minimum specifications, and subsequently permits were issued to Uber and Lyft. However, there was a period of obfuscation with one company to say the least, based on these issues:  

  • The use of background checks using fingerprints;
  • Whether or not drivers had insurance;
  • Markings on vehicles highlighting the company name;
  • Vehicle standards;
  • Corporate responsibility for drivers;
  • Whether or not the company can be classified as being ‘in the transportation business’ at all.

Subsequently, one of the companies was fined by the PUC for refusing to provide information as required by law; the company has since gone to appeal. The airport concluded that the company wanted to write its own rules, even when operating on airport property and that before it was granted a permit at the airport, its vehicles were unlawfully operating there.

In contrast, another TNC was “reasonable” and agreed to the terms early on. The first company signed its permit only when it saw that the second one could have a monopoly at the airport. 

This remains a ‘pilot programme’, and at its conclusion it is anticipated there will be some adjustments needed in the permits. Despite this, San Diego remains supportive of the TNC concept. It is new, and has many advantages for those who need cheap transportation that is easy to arrange. 

Serious issues remain, however. For example, the unreliability of the recruitment process: when fingerprints are not taken, and a driver can easily give a false name. Also, the reluctance of some companies to require the use of ‘alternative fuel’ vehicles (as an environmental protection measure). The lack of identification of vehicles by the corporate name means it is nearly impossible to regulate some TNCs’ operations, and finally – the uncooperative nature of some TNCs in their dealings with the Utilities Commission.

For 'TNC' read ‘LCC’ in an aviation context; CAPA's Survey

There is a suspicion that some TNCs are mimicking the modus operandi of the ultra low cost carriers (ULCC), but the ULCC is popular - even obsessively so - with passengers wherever they fly, and if a TNC driver is prepared to come out in the early hours of the morning and charge a handful of dollars for a long ride home, then the company he is representing will gain equivalent support from the public.

Mindful of that conundrum, CAPA distributed a response-time restricted survey to airports worldwide, of varying sizes and types, to attempt to come to a better understanding of how the industry is adjusting to these challenges.

A copy of the survey is appended at the end of this report, as Appendix 1. The survey was confidential, meaning that no recipient or respondent is identified in this report. Respondents were given the option not to answer any question they were unable to, for any reason. Owing to the increasing complexity of the product and its marketing, respondents were not asked to comment on sub-brands, only the generic companies and product.

The following section of this report quantifies and qualifies the responses received.

In response to Question 1, whether there is any corporate policy on granting permission to TNCs to operate at the airport:

59% of airports answered Yes; and 41% No.

Question 2 asked: If the answer to (1) is No, is there any intention at this time to introduce a corporate policy?

Of those that replied to the question 100%, had no intention to do so at this time.

Question 3 asked: 'If the answer to (1) is Yes, does the airport issue licenses or operating permits to the TNCs?'

The vast majority (92%) of those respondents’ airports do issue such licenses or permits.

Question 4 concerned charges levied by the airport for performing these activities: ‘Is any charge made to the TNC for passengers carried?’

All but 10% of respondents answered this question. Of those that did, some 40% do make a charge but 60% do not.

Question 5 asked: ’If the answer to (4) is Yes, how is the charge administered?’ (e.g. a charge of USD1 per passenger applied at time of transaction).

Only a small number of respondents elected to answer what could, for various reasons, be a difficult question. Those responses are chronicled below, verbatim.

Note: It is assumed that $ = US dollar (USD).

Currently in negotiation

$50 per yr permit fee

$4 per drop off and pick up

Trip fees are assessed for each pick-up and drop-off transaction. Under the permit, TNC company pays the fee based on transaction, not necessarily number of passengers. TNC is responsible to report all transactions within a designated geo-fence at the airport terminals.

Charge per vehicle visit to airport, plus additional charging for exceeding dwell

Currently discussing

Question 6 was: ‘Is the TNC required to ensure that the vehicle is easily identifiable?’

Two-thirds of respondents answered, and slightly less than two-thirds of them answered Yes.

In Question 7, the query was: ‘Is the TNC required to report the number of passengers delivered and picked up during a fixed period of time (e.g. each week, month)?’

In this instance, of the respondents, only one fifth did require this information.

The purpose of Question 8 was to ascertain if the operation by TNCs fall within the remit of local taxi and/or other public transport regulations

This question produced the closest split between answers so far.

Question 9 concerned operational time limits: ‘Are there any daily time limits on TNC operations? (e.g. only permitted between certain hours)?’

The answer was a resounding No, with just one exception.

Question 10 concerned the volume of operations: ‘Is there any limitation on the number of TNCs that may operate at the airport?’

This question produced an identical response to that of Question 9, with only one airport operator declaring that there is a limitation on numbers.

Question 11 asked: ‘If the answer to (10) is Yes, what is that limitation?’

The single response was:  ‘That will be set, based on capacity.’

Questions 12 and 13 are concerned with the safety of both vehicles and their drivers.

Question 12 asked: ‘Does airport management engage in any method of safety assessment of TNC vehicles, either directly or indirectly?’

Again, responses were well matched between those that do and those that don’t.

The text of Question 13 was: ‘Does airport management engage in any method of safety or security clearance of TNC drivers, either directly or indirectly?’

On this occasion only one quarter of responding airports do so.

Question 14 concerns vehicle insurance: ‘Does the airport or municipal authority enforce a minimum insurance cover on a TNC vehicle?’

There was a close correlation between those that replied yes or no.

Question 15 was related to the infrastructure investment that is taking place at airports to cater for the demands of TNCs (if any):

‘Is any infrastructure investment taking place, scheduled or planned that is specifically related to TNCs? (If Yes, please expand)’.

In the majority of cases no particular investment is being made, though the five cases where it is under way require clarification.

Four of the ‘Yes’ respondents gave further information as follows:        

Re-purpose parking lot as TNC holding area.

Parking/waiting facilities and monitoring equipment

Possible development of a staging lot

Technology to track TNC vehicles within the airport geo-fence has been developed as well as electronic tools for enforcement, specifically whether drivers are active on a TNC platform and authorised.

The final three questions were designed for free-form answers.

Question 16 asked: ‘Does the airport management regard TNCs as helping shift passengers onto public transportation, or as an additional form of public transport that will cause more pollution?’

There were 13 meaningful responses to this question, as follows. Again answers are repeated verbatim:

Airport management currently has no position in this regard

No answer



Helping shift passengers on to public transportation



We see TNCs as another form of Commercial transportation which must have an agreement with the airport to operate.

At this time, evidence indicates TNCs are attracting customers from all previous modes of transportation. There has been a decline in the number of passengers using mass transit, so early indications are that TNCs are adding to congestion and pollution.

TNC's are just another type of taxis. We are obliged to let them operate if they pay for utilising our infrastructure as everybody else, otherwise they cannot operate in the airport.

Neither. We consider it a cheaper form of taxi

Dependant on which TNC i.e. shuttle vs. mass transit


additional form

Question 17: ‘What is the attitude of local taxi and mini cab organisations to TNCs? Co-operation or confrontation?’

There were 11 meaningful responses to this question:

We have had no incidents of confrontation to date.





Confrontation is most likely

Local taxi organisations are opposed to TNCs operating in general and especially at the Airport. Drivers can at times be confrontational, however, have mostly engaged in reporting unauthorised conduct.

Confrontation in order to get a level playing Ground.

Not outright confrontation but hostile; they are regarded as a cheap minivan company


non-heavy confrontation

Question 18: ‘Finally, what is the overall view of TNCs? Are they regarded as a benefit to the passenger and airport, or an inconvenience?’

There were also 11 meaningful responses to this question:

TNC service benefits the passengers who seek it out, and has no impact on other passengers.


Convenience to some passengers



They do not fit in to the existing categories of transportation. They are not recognisable and therefore difficult to spot and regulate to make proper and efficient use of the infrastructure. They may be a benefit if the passengers like the product and if they enter into an agreement with the airport regarding the operation and use of the airport.

In general, TNCs are welcomed and desired by passengers. From an Airport management perspective, companies have complied with the overarching permit terms, however controlling the behaviour of individual drivers has been challenging in terms of adherence to Airport rules and staging areas.

None of the above if they operate on same terms as everybody else.

Neutral; as minicabs

dependant on the TNC - mostly beneficial as more passengers per vehicle which reduces road congestion

benefit, any new concept that meets passenger needs is helpful. However, TNC UBER is not very innovative; its contracted transport and that is not new

CAPA - Centre for Aviation thanks everyone who took part for their time and co-operation.

Survey conclusions – many airports are still at any early stage of policy making concerning TNCs

While firm conclusions cannot be drawn from a small sample, reasonable extrapolations can be made and there are some observable trends, the most prominent of which are:


P1. The number of skipped questions possibly indicates that the creation of policy is still at an early stage at many airports

P2. There is a polarisation of opinion in some instances, as is often the case with new/developing trends

(Individual Questions)

Q1. The majority of respondent airports have a corporate policy on granting permission to TNCs to operate.

Q2. However, of the minority who have not, there is no intention at all to do so.

Q3. Of those that have, the vast majority issue licenses or permits to TNCs.

Q4. A simple majority of airports do not make a charge to TNCs based on the number of passengers they carry.

Q5. Where a charge is administered, as in Q4, there is no obviously common method of doing so and in some cases such procedures are still under development.

Q6. The majority of airports expect TNC vehicles to be easily identifiable.

Q7. Most airports do not require detailed information on the number of passengers picked up or set down in any period of time.

Q8. There is hardly any difference in the ratio of airports where the operation by TNCs falls within the remit of local public transport regulations and where they do not.

Q9. In almost all cases there are no daily time limits on TNC operations.

Q10. Nor has any limitation been imposed on the number of TNCs that may operate at the airport, in all but one response.

Q11. In that response, the limitation will be set according to capacity, indicating it is under consideration.

Q12. Again there was hardly any difference in the ratio between airports where management engages in any method of safety assessment of TNC vehicles, either directly or indirectly, and those where they do not.

Q13. However, in the case of TNC drivers only one quarter of the respondents said that they engage in any method of safety assessment, either directly or indirectly.

Q14. Again, there was a close correlation between airports or municipal authorities that enforce a minimum insurance cover on a TNC vehicle and those that do not.

Q15. A substantial majority of responding airports is not making any particular infrastructure investment to cater for TNCs. Of those that are, most are focused on parking/staging areas, while one has invested in technology to track TNC vehicles. 

Q16. Most respondents to this question do not consider that TNCs are helping to improve the number of passengers using public transport, or they have not yet given consideration to the question. There is a suggestion that TNCs are considered overall to be polluters, rather than a method of helping reduce pollution. One respondent pointed to a switch away from mass (public) transportation towards TNCs.

Q17. The majority of respondents indicate varying degrees of hostility toward TNCs among regular taxi drivers.

Q18. The responses to this question were the most varied of the survey. They swing from overall indifference towards TNCs and their modus operandi, to at least tacit support, to suspicion about their impact on the airport’s clients, i.e. the passenger. One interesting observation pointed out that one of the TNCs is doing nothing ‘new’ by engaging in contracted transport, which is how the passenger sees it.

Selected news reports relating to TNC operations at airports

Surveys only tell part of the story. While the CAPA survey was confidential there are many news items that CAPA publishes that are in the public domain and some of them are printed here.

The majority arise from the US, which is the country that is having to come to terms with TNCs more than most. A selection is published below.



News Report Date (s)


News Report

Phoenix, Arizona, USA



Acceptance of TNCs under consideration. Public petition received in favour.

Phoenix Sky Harbour International Airport stated it is working with Uber and Lyft toward an agreement under which they would be allowed to pick up passengers from the airport. Transportation networking companies such as Uber and Lyft operate through a mobile app, which allows consumers with smart phones to submit a trip request which is then routed to Uber drivers who use their own cars.

Airportspokeswoman Julie Rodrigues stated it is aware of a petition to allow Uber to operate at the airport. The petition states, “The airport is currently trying to enforce outdated rules on [TNCs] like Uber that are standing in the way of innovation and consumer choice”. It points out that there are six times as many missed rides at the airport as in Old Town Scottsdale, Downtown Phoenix and Tempe combined. The airport is requiring TNCs to be fingerprinted for security reasons.

Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, USA


TNCs permitted to operate at the airport.

Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport confirmed State District Judge Bonnie Lee Goldstein has ruled in favour of the airport, allowing transportation networking companies such as Uber and Lyft to operate at the airport. The airport previously approved TNCs to operate on its premises; however the taxi drivers association files a lawsuit against the airport board and requested the judge place the policy on hold. Judge Goldstein said she could not temporarily stop the policy from taking effect as “There is nothing unfair or to use the old phrase, illegal, immoral or fattening about increased competition”.

Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA


Uber permitted to operate. Per passenger charge levied

Albuquerque International Sunport Airport issued Uber with a permit, allowing the transportation networking company to operate to and from the airport legally. Mayor Richard Berry said, “The world’s changing and we want to make sure those who are here can flourish, but we also want to make sure that we are a city that invites in disruptive new technologies and this is an important step for us as a city”. The agreement requires Uber pay the city USD1 per passenger picks up or dropped off at the airport. The TNC is also required to report the number of airport passengers every 10 days.

Seattle, Washington, USA


TNC and other transportation services being evaluated.

The Port of Seattle stated it is considering a number of options to facilitate transportation networking companies (TNCs) at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The Port said, “It is looking carefully at new agreements with a range of transportation services including traditional metered cabs, flat-rate cabs, limousines and the app-based TNC’s such as Uber and Lyft. We are optimistic we can reach an agreement soon”. Uber Seattle GM Brooke Steger welcomed the advancement stating, “It is indefensible that TNC drivers…are uniquely unable to pick up passengers at Sea­Tac­ even as those same drivers safely drop off thousands of passengers at Sea­Tac every week”.

Oakland, California, USA


Uber permitted to operate under a pilot programme.

The Port of Oakland announced an agreement with Uber that permits the TNC to legally operate its uberX product at Oakland International Airport. Through the agreement, vehicles are authorised to use uberX to pick up and drop off customers at OAK, under a pilot programme. Service commenced on 13-Aug-2015.

Los Angeles. California, USA


TNCs permitted to operate at LAX, security screening under consideration

Los Angeles International Airport stated the Los Angeles City Council panel has expressed its support of transportation networking companies such as Uber and Lyft operating at the airport; however the matter remains in the hands of the full council. The full Council recently overrode a decision by the Board of Airport Commissioners to allow Uber and Lyft to apply for permits of airport operation. The council cited public safety and equity concerns for its decision.

The airport announced the Los Angeles City Council approved a policy allowing transportation networking companies (TNCs) to pick-up and drop-off passengers at the airport. The city is exploring its legal options on requiring TNCs to comply with fingerprint-based FBI screenings in order to allow operation at the airport.

Las Vegas, Nevada, USA


TNC operation under evaluation, having initially been denied.

Las Vegas McCarran International Airport stated Clark County commissioners are developing a plan to allow transportation networking companies such as Uber and Lyft to operate at the airport. The plan is expected to be finalised by Oct-2015, when the full commission will decide whether or not to approve them.

The airport stated Clark County has denied a proposal to issue temporary permits to Uber and Lyft drivers to operate at the airport. During the week of 14-Sep-2015, the County issued 87 citations to Uber and Lyft drivers for operating at the airport. The County Commission will consider ride-sharing permits during 20-Oct-2015.

The airport issued a temporary business licence to ridesharing services Uber and Lyft allowing them to operate at the airport. Legislation is being finalised but the airport notes the services would likely be available in several days. A permanent permit will be voted on during a 17-Nov-2015 meeting.

Clark County Commission (Las Vegas McCarran Airport) chairman Steve Sisolak stated the final hearing on regulating transportation networking companies at airports, was held on 18-Nov-2015. The commission is considering whether to require the companies to acquire business licences for operation at airports or for their drivers to hold the licence.

Cincinnati, Ohio and Northern Texas, USA


Uber permitted to operate.

Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport announced an agreement with Uber Technologies Inc, authorising Uber to operate at the airport under their new ridesharing policy. Uber can now commence pick-ups as early as 08:00, effective 03-Sep-2015.

Sacramento, California, USA


Uber and Lyft permitted to operate; resistance from taxi drivers.

Sacramento International airport taxi drivers voiced protest against the decision to allow Uber to operate on premises, stating it is a double standard, as they are not permitted to operate on the curb side. The airport defended its decision stating Uber drivers are not allowed to wait curb side for passengers, but only drive onto airport grounds when summoned.

The airport signed an agreement with Lyft allowing the ride sharing company to operate legally at the airport.

The airport and Lyft signed an agreement allowing drivers to operate at the airport. Lyft applied for a permit under the airport’s TNC procedure. The Lyft agreement went into effect on 19-Oct-2015. The permit applies to all Lyft drivers. Passengers can meet Lyft cars where hotel shuttles and offsite cab companies pick up passengers: at the west end of Terminal A and the south end of Terminal B, outside door 1.

Dallas, Texas, USA


US airline partners in promotional offer

Virgin America partnered with Uber to offer promotions for passengers flying from Dallas Love Field airport, including free Uber rides, a fare sale, and a ‘Friday night flights’ series.

Monterey, California, USA


Uber permitted to operate

Monterey Regional Airport reached an agreement with Uber allowing the ride sharing company to operate legally at the airport from 01-Oct-2015. The operating permit also applies to all UberX drivers.

Chicago, Illinois, USA


TNCs permitted to operate at all Chicago airport locations, with operational caveats; taxi company resistance.

Chicago O’Hare International Airport and Chicago Midway International Airport confirmed taxi drivers blocked access roads to the terminals on 23-Sep-2015 in protest of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s proposed USD0.50 cent taxi fee increase and plans to allow transportation networking companies such as Uber to operate at airports. Under the proposed plan, TNCs would pay a USD5 fee for every drop-off and pick-up at the airports.

Chicago Department of Aviation confirmed Lyft received city approval to operate services to and from Chicago airports: Midway, O’Hare, Chicago Executive Airport, Gary/Chicago International Airport and Chicago Rockford Airport. As part of the approval, drivers are required to register with the department of aviation, undergo training and install additional identification signage on their vehicles. Uber has also noted it has “provided the city with a request and all the documentation required to launch” said a spokesperson.

Chicago Department of Aviation issued Uber with a permit to operate at Chicago O’Hare international Airport and Chicago Midway International Airport. Uber Chicago GM Chris Taylor said an average UberX service from O’Hare to the Central Business District would cost USD28 and USD23 from Miday to the CBD.

Myrtle Beach, Florida, USA


TNC regulation under review.

Myrtle Beach International Airport commissioned a study to identify ways to better regulate Uber operators at the airport. The study is aimed to create an equal playing field for all transportation providers, including Taxis. The Horry County Transportation Committee supported the study, stating TNCs have an unfair advantage over cab drivers as state law does not require them to pay the same fees.

Orlando, Florida, USA


UberBlack (high end product) permitted to operate, but not UberX for now.

Orlando International Airport verbally agreed to some limited-use terms with ride sharing service Uber to make the company’s Uber Black service available. The agreement would not cover UberX, with the airport noting Uber has not agreed to the city's terms to conduct background checks and meet other safety compliance standards.

The airport stated the City of Orlando has reached an agreement with UberBlack to pick-up and drop-off passengers at the airport. Uber X however is yet to be granted an airport operational permit. The airport’s largest taxi company Mears Transportation stated, “It is our understanding they have agreed to comply with all regulations and permitting requirements, including paying commercial lane fees like everyone else”.

San Jose, California, USA


Operational regulations for taxi firms to be eased to level the playing field with TNCs. TNC Wingz permitted to operate.

San Jose Mineta International Airport stated the city council will consider on 17-Nov-2015 measures aimed to ease regulations on taxi drivers and level the playing field with transportation networking companies such as Uber and Lyft. The measures include the issue of temporary permits for drivers while they wait for background check results, simplifying the vehicle inspection process and lowering fees for fares booked through mobile apps.

The airport announced an agreement with Wingz – the first Transportation Network Company (TNC) permitted to both pick up and drop off travellers on airport property. Wingz and all other future TNCs permitted to operate at SJC pick up travellers at designated areas at the ground transportation islands.

Charleston, South Carolina, USA


TNC policy under review as a result of complaints from taxi firms.

Charleston County Aviation Authority stated it is reconsidering its transportation networking company policy for operators at Charleston International Airport. The authority said the reconsideration is the result of complaints from taxi drivers, who are currently protesting about passenger charges.

Salt Lake City, Utah, USA


Uber and Lyft permitted to operate.

Salt Lake City International Airport issued UberX with a permit to pick-up and drop-off passengers at the airport. UberX joins Lyft as the two transportation networking companies registered with the State of Utah and permitted to operate at the airport.

Latrobe, Pennsylvania, USA


Agreement with TNCs under consideration.

Arnold Palmer Regional Airport Authority executive director Gabe Monzo stated a number of requests have been received from Uber to operate to and from Arnold Palmer Regional Airport. Mr Monzo said a plan is being drafted with authority and city solicitor to develop an agreement with transportation networking companies.

Norfolk, Virginia, USA


Uber suspends pick- ups as a result of high fees levied by airport authority.

Norfolk Airport Authority confirmed Uber is suspending pick-ups at Norfolk International Airport, effective 22-Nov-2015. In a statement Uber said, "Airport officials want to impose high fees that would make the cost of using Uber at ORF very expensive for riders. These fees would be bad for riders and drivers alike, and would decrease business for our partners at the airport. Despite our effort to negotiate in good faith, we were unable to reach an agreement with the Airport Authority".


Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia


TNCs permitted to operate. Customised lounge to be designed.

Canberra Airport welcomed ACT Government's taxi licensing amendment to allow Uber and other ride-sharing operations. Airport MD Stephen Byron said the airport is designing an air-conditioned waiting lounge in its new terminal “tailored to the needs of ride-sharing customers“. Mr Byron added “Our focus is [for travellers] to move to and from the airport in the most efficient manner possible.”

Jakarta, Indonesia


Licensing system to be introduced for all public transport operators.

PT Angkasa Pura II (APII) president director Budi Karya Sumadi said Uber services will have to comply with the public transport regulations at Jakarta Soekharno-Hatta Airport. Mr Sumadi advised unregistered taxi operators are banned at the airport, as APII plans to launch its taxi licensing programme in Oct-2015. The state-owned enterprise will introduce a registration policy to monitor and control the flow of unregistered taxi operators at the airport by introducing the licensing system. Mr Sumadi has issued an invitation to Uber operators to "register as a service provider" under the APII programme.

Manila, Philippines


TNCs welcomed but accreditation must be sought and acquired.

Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) invited app-based transport service providers to acquire accreditation to operate at Manila Ninoy Aquino InternationalAirport (NAIA). The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) awarded Uber and GrabCar franchising accreditation on 18-Aug-2015, but existing rules bar the ride-sharing companies from NAIA passenger pick-up without express authorisation from MIAA. According to MIAA spokesperson David de Castro the authority is working with the LTFRB on new rules. The authority has encouraged Uber and GrabCar to work collaboratively with it to develop a business agreement and formal accreditation process. Mr Castro said NAIA passengers could use the extra transportation option, as airport taxi services are insufficient during peak periods.

News Report Summary; TNCs offer airports opportunities to expand surface transport interfaces

In most cases these news reports confirm what the survey revealed:

  • Most of the news reports are of agreements between airports and one or more TNCs to operate pick-up and set-down, i.e. the majority of respondents’ airports have a corporate policy on granting permission to TNCs to operate and are issuing licenses or permits (survey questions 1 and 3)
  • However, in some cases there are operational caveats, mainly concerning public safety and security (questions 12 and 13);
  • Resistance from taxi drivers and other public transport service providers is high, and in some instances it has caused the airport authority to re-evaluate its agreements with those operators (question 17);
  • There is one case where an airport has selectively approved one TNC brand but not others.

Ultimately TNCs are here to stay, unless or until a product that is more convenient and cost effective to the consumer makes an appearance. Moreover, their massive expansion, if it continues unabated, suggests they will soon be operating at most airports.

In fact, they are only a small part of the ever-evolving challenge of the surface transport interface with airports, which also brings into play the prospect of multi-segment ticketing via smart phone apps, involving not only airlines and high-speed trains, but also local transport, buses, taxis, TNCs – even rickshaws, tuk-tuks and hired bicycles.

While that last comment is made ‘tongue-in-cheek’ to a degree, it should be borne in mind that it was only a little over a decade ago that the prospect of making micro-payments by credit or charge card was still being debated.

The next stage in the alliance of transport and payment mechanisms will throw down even more challenges to established norms in the air transport business, and it is a fair bet from the results of this survey that TNCs will be a part of it, as long as some of the other critical issues revealed in this short report  - and especially safety and security - are adequately dealt with.

Then there is the prospect of how to facilitate interaction between TNCs and the staff car-sharing programmes that are increasingly a major aspiration of any airport that covets an environmental cachet, and which now are being extended to passenger car-sharing programmes.

One that started at London City Airport in Nov-2015 is the first in the UK, but will surely not be the last. At the same time, an 18-month car-sharing pilot programme will be launched at Minneapolis St Paul International Airport from 31-Dec-2015.

The London initiative coincides with an announcement by a Transport Minister that drop-off fees will be imposed on more UK airports to encourage the use of public transportation in the hope of improving air quality – air pollution around airports is reported to be largely contributed by motor vehicle emissions, rather than aircraft itself.

This is one potentially negative event that the TNC business could fall foul of, and especially so if the vehicles that are operated do not come up to scratch, which is one of the issues that came up in the survey.

This is an evolving scenario, but the odds still remain in the favour of TNCs.  

The complexity of the issue suggests that those airports that have so far ignored the impact of TNCs might be advised to start thinking about their strategy.

NB If any other airport wishes to complete the questionnaire, please contact info@centreforaviation.com

APPENDIX 1 – Questionnaire and Introductory Note

Introductory e-mail text

Dear Sir,

CAPA – Centre for Aviation is undertaking a survey into how airports are responding to the opportunities and challenges arising from the rapid growth of Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) such as Uber, Lyft, Sidecar and others.

A number of issues have already arisen with respect to TNC operations concerning, amongst others, identification, licensing, insurance, safety and security.

We should be grateful if you could spare a few moments to complete the questionnaire, which is being sent to many airports of different sizes across the world. If possible a reply by 30 November 2015 would be helpful. Please ignore any questions you cannot or may not wish to answer. The survey is confidential. No individual airports will be identified from their responses in the survey results.

The questionnaire assumes that TNCs are already operating at your airport(s). If not, please respond as best you can, according to any plans that have been made for when they do.

Thank you for your co-operation.

Yours faithfully,


  1. Is there any corporate policy on granting permission to TNCs to operate at the airport? Y/N
  2. If the answer to (1) is No, is there any intention at this time to introduce a corporate policy? Y/N
  3. If the answer to (1) is Yes, does the airport issue licenses or operating permits to the TNCs? Y/N
  4. Is any charge made to the TNC for passengers carried? Y/N
  5. If the answer to (4) is Yes, how is the charge administered? (e.g. a charge of USD1 per passenger applied at time of transaction)………………………………………………………………………..
  6. Is the TNC required to ensure the vehicle is easily identifiable? Y/N
  7. Is the TNC required to report the number of passengers delivered and picked up during a fixed period of time (e.g. each week, month)? Y/N
  8. Does the operation by TNCs fall within the remit of local taxi and/or other public transport regulations? Y/N
  9. Are there any daily time limits on TNC operations? (e.g. only permitted between certain hours)? Y/N
  10. Is there any limitation on the number of TNCs that may operate at the airport? Y/N
  11. If the answer to (10) is Yes, what is that limitation?


  1. Does airport management engage in any method of safety assessment of TNC vehicles, either directly or indirectly? Y/N
  2. Does airport management engage in any method of safety or security clearance of TNC drivers, either directly or indirectly? Y/N
  3. Does the airport or municipal authority enforce a minimum insurance cover on a TNC vehicle? Y/N
  4. Is any infrastructure investment taking place, scheduled or planned that is specifically related to TNCs? Y/N (If Yes, please expand: …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

The final questions are designed for free form answers.

  1. Does the airport management regard TNCs as helping shift passengers on to public transportation or as an additional form of public transport that will cause more pollution?


  1. What is the attitude of local taxi and mini cab organisations to TNCs? Co-operation or confrontation?


  1. Finally, what is the overall view of TNCs? Are they regarded as a benefit to the passenger and airport, or an inconvenience?


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