Online cab aggregator Ola has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Kempegowda International Airport Bengaluru to set up an ‘Ola Zone’ at the Bangalore airport. In the Ola Zone, Ola’s drivers will be able to park their vehicles and its users can get cabs from here.
Ola says that it has employed representatives to guide users to the Ola Zone or their cabs. Ola zone is situated across the Arrivals gate. Along with this, Ola also has parking slots and pick up points within the airport premises for drivers to park their vehicles and users to get cabs.
Ola says that city and airport drops and pickups account for a significant part of its daily requests, but does not provide a number. It says that with the Ola Zone, a larger pool of cars will be available to airport travellers “with lower ETAs”. Honestly, we imagine that more than lower ETAs, users would care more about getting a cab in the first place:
The company states ambitiously that it plans to do the same at railway and bus stations in Bangalore and across the 102 cities it operates in, without mentioning when. According to the release, Bangalore airport handled 19 million passengers in FY 2016.
Magicsewa – Airport Authority case: Note that last month, Delhi based online cab aggregator Magic Sewa alleged that Airport Authority of India (AAI) and Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) were giving ‘preferential treatment’ to taxi operators Easy Cabs, Meru and Mega Taxi at the Delhi airport by waiving the Rs 150 entry fee, while imposing it on other cab operators. The Bench disposed of the appeal (LPA 241/2016), while the AAI counsel said that it had floated tenders for granting special privileges and that the 3 cab companies were charged huge amounts for entry into the airport. Another appeal (W.P.(C) 1585/2016) is scheduled to be heard on 22 July.
There’s also the issue of cab aggregators stopping service at Kerala airports. In January, Thomas Tibu Abraham, an Ola user found himself and his family in danger at the Thiruvanathapuram airport when local cab drivers approached their Ola vehicle with threats to damage the car. Ultimately, Abraham had to get a rickshaw from outside the airport, half an hour after this incident.
Its interesting to see a designated zone at the airport for cabs. We think that this could lead to a less violent (and slightly more friendly?) tussle between online and offline service providers, given that users will stick to their business and go straight to their cabs instead of looking for them at the airport and coordinating their location. However, Ola should make sure that its drivers don’t come in the way of harm because of a designated zone. Also, we imagine that other cab aggregators are likely to follow this model, which will ultimately lead to one space/zone for private cabs that users can take. This still makes sense for users, given other options might mean negotiating for fares, not getting vehicles etc.