Uber, Lyft crush taxies at Atlanta’s airport; cargo expansion underway: ATL GM

By David Pendered

As expected, Uber and Lyft trounced the traditional taxi industry at Atlanta’s airport during the first three months they operated at the airport, the airport’s general manager said Wednesday.

lyft, atl airport

Uber and Lyft had more than twice the number of pick-ups at Atlanta’s airport than traditional taxies in the first quarter of 2017, according to the airport’s general manager. Credit: yelp.com

Uber and Lyft provided more than twice as many trips as the entire fleet of taxies that operate at the airport, according to figures provided by Airport General Manager Roosevelt Council, Jr. to the Atlanta City Council’s Transportation Committee.

Here are the figures from the first quarter of 2017:

  • Uber and Lyft: 396,903 pick-ups;
  • Taxi operations: 175,369 pick-ups.
  • The taxi figure represents a 9.7 percent decrease compared to the first quarter of 2016. Taxis picked up 194,272 trips during that period.

Council reminded the committee of the bitter battle waged by the transportation network companies, which includes Uber and Lyft, to gain access to the airport. Taxi drivers and companies fought, but failed to keep the TNC’s out of the world’s busiest passenger airport.

“It was a very emotional exercise for those guys,” Council said of the taxi drivers and companies. “Taxi operation have dropped 10 percent, comparing 2017 to 2016 numbers.”

taxi rides at airport

Taxies at Atlanta’s airport picked up 10 percent fewer rides in the first quarter of 2017 than in the same period in 2017, according to the airport’s general managers. Credit: Atlanta

Then Council offered a bright comment for the taxi industry.

“Although it’s going down, it’s still a viable service that people tend to look for at the airport,” Council said.

Cargo was another topic Council addressed in his quarterly update presentation to the committee. Atlanta intends to bolster the amount of cargo handled by Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

The airport hopes to break ground soon on a 574,000 square foot cargo facility, Council said. A request for proposals has been issued and plans call for the facility to be operational by Dec. 31.

The business plan calls for the focus to be on high-value items including perishables, pharmaceuticals, e-commerce, postal, aerospace and automotive, Council said. Talks are underway with Delta Air Lines, KLM and Air France, and others, to develop trade corridors that will make Atlanta’s airport a gateway into the U.S.

cargo, atl

Atlanta’s airport is implementing the plan to become a major cargo handler, according to airport GM Roosevelt Council, Jr. Credit: airport-world.com

Cargo is a market the airport intends to develop, according to remarks in the airport’s most recent comprehensive annual report, dated June 30, 2016.

To grow the market, Atlanta will have to recover a lot of lost trade.

The airport handled 14.3 percent less cargo in 2016 than in 2007. The number of metric tons dropped from 730,708 to 626,082, according to the annual report.

The good news is that the trajectory is heading up. The number of metric tons increased by 4 percent from 2014 through 2016. It rose from 601,441 metric tons in 2014 to 626,082 metric tons in 2016.

This growth may be attributed to some aggressive pricing by the airport. Cargo carriers that start new routes can have there parking fees waived as part of a new program that provides specific incentives for opening new international routes not already served from Atlanta.

A total of 23 cargo airlines serve Atlanta including China Cargo Airlines; Emirates Sky Cargo, Kalitta Air, Polar Air Cargo Worldwide, Singapore Cargo and Turkish Airlines Cargo, according to the annual report.


David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

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