Passengers arriving at Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport can now hail a Uber.
The United States’ largest ride-share service started offering pickups at the airport for the first time on Monday, after agreeing to the terms outlined in a car services contract with the airport.
Drivers for Uber, which started in San Francisco in 2009, had been able to drop off users of the smartphone car service app at the airport, but were restricted from making pickups for lack of a formal deal.
“We finally resolved all those outstanding issues, and they signed on and are setting up the operational parameters within the app at the airport,” said Sonoma County Airport Manager Jon Stout.
Uber rival Lyft, the nation’s second- largest ridesharing company has been operating at Sonoma County Airport for the past three years and until this week competed with only traditional taxicabs and the Airport Express airporter coach service.
Air travelers had long requested Uber at the airport, but the company previously was unwilling to comply with the terms in the car services operating agreement, which includes various insurance and data requirements, Stout said. Its launch this week could spell higher revenues for the regional airport’s annual budget.
“From a customer standpoint, Uber is a very popular platform,” Stout said. “It will definitely add convenience, because they are a larger market-share operator than Lyft as a whole.”
Lyft, which also is headquartered in San Francisco, began selling company shares in March. Uber also went public earlier this month.
“Lyft has been proud to provide transportation services at Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport for the last three years and looks forward to continued collaboration with the leadership there on how to provide the best possible pickup and drop-off experience for our rider and driver community,” Darcy Yee, a company spokesperson, said in an email.
Through a company spokesman, Uber declined an interview request but released a written statement.
“Uber is excited to begin offering affordable and reliable transportation to travelers at Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport,” the emailed statement read.
Out of the airport’s 440,000 passengers last year, Lyft garnered about 8,300 rides, which Stout said is almost a 3-to-1 ratio compared to taxicabs.
The airport collected a $1.50 service fee for each rideshare and taxicab fare — which Uber also will have to pay — and $1 for each airporter coach.
Expected passenger gains from new direct flights to Denver and Dallas-Fort Worth, combined with an increase in coach fees to $2.50, should lead to greater revenues for the airport, which last year brought in $26,600. The airport was projecting to receive $34,800 from the ride-hailing, taxicab and coach fees for the 2019-20 fiscal year, but that was before Uber’s introduction, which could eat into some of Lyft’s rides since some operators drive for both companies.
Some of that ride-hailing fare growth might also take a bite out of Sonoma County Airport’s annual parking revenues, which are expected to hit $1.6 million during the current fiscal year ending in June.
Airports in San Francisco and San Jose saw their parking revenue fall as the use of ride-hailing services increased over the past few years, though the Sonoma County Airport’s $8 million budget still anticipates $2 million in parking fees for 2019-20.