Online cab aggregator Ola, and Uber has entered into an alliance with the Airport Authority of India (AAI) to set up designated cab zones at five AAI-run airports including Kolkata, Chennai, Pune, Bhubaneshwar, and Lucknow.
While Ola will set up Ola Zones and Ola Kiosks at four airports including Kolkata, Chennai, Pune, and Lucknow, Uber will provide similar services along with on ground assistance to direct riders to the car pick-up zones at the cities as well.
The partnership with AAI will enable Ola and Uber driver partners to park their vehicles at a designated area at airport and then pick up customers from there. These zones will have dedicated signage will direct riders to the pick-up location for their Ola and Uber.
While these zones serves as a designated pick-up and drop-off points, the Kiosks will be manned by cab aggregators’ representatives at all times, to ensure cab booking even without a smartphone or the cab booking app.
Ola claims that this will bring down the Estimated Time of Arrival (ETAs) to as low as 2 minutes in these four airports.
Salman Adds: The 2 minute ETA claim isn’t justifiable. The last time I tried to get a cab from one of these “designated kiosks”, severe traffic congestion inwards to Bangalore Airport, increased the waiting time to more than 15-20 mins. This is because most cabs within the kiosks get booked on a first-come-first-serve basis. When the number parked cabs within the kiosk get exhausted, nearby Ola drivers are alerted for a ride. But they pick up customers from designated kiosk area only, causing more congestion.
Ola had set up its first ‘Ola Zone’ at Kempegowda International Airport – Bangalore in May last year, followed by Ola Zones and Ola Kiosks at Raipur Airport in February this year. Its rival Uber had also lunched its first dedicated parking area and pick up zone, called U Zone at Kempegowda International Airport Bangalore at the same time , for its drivers and passengers. Uber said in a statement that Uber is available at over 20 airports in India.
Despite the virtual Ola and Uber neck-to-neck race in the cab aggregation space, new players are entering the market. For instance:
- Vehicle manufacturer Mahindra & Mahindra recently said that it will foray into ride-hailing and cab aggregation business using electric taxis.
- Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio is also rumored to roll out an app-based taxi service this year, for which it ordered some 600 cars to kick start the service. However, Jio spokespersons have denied this several times.
- Online motorbike taxi company Baxi said that it will enter cab aggregation for which it partnered with various taxi unions in Delhi, Ghaziabad, Gurgaon, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai and Bengaluru.
Update: The story has been updated as Uber sent a press release which said that they would be setting up these kiosks as well.