Flight Blog

 

You may have noticed some local TV news reports about Uber service at the airport. Uber is the on-demand private ride service; it recently started doing business in Springfield.

There are several angles to this story you haven’t heard. This post will be long-winded so please bear with us. Let’s start with what’s being reported in local media: complaints from Uber drivers about the airport.

Uber drivers don’t like the temporary airport parking rules in place that their employer, corporate Uber, agreed to. Rather than taking their concerns to their employer, drivers are by-passing Uber and complaining directly to the media, and indirectly to the airport.

From the airport's point-of-view, this is a peculiar situation ...

We're currently negotiating an operating agreement with corporate Uber which is located in San Francisco. When it’s done the agreement will spell out many things, including where Uber employees can operate on the airport, and how much Uber will pay the airport for doing business at the airport. As these corporate negotiations continue, the company's employees are trying to set the terms of the contract on their own.

The main concern Uber employees have concerns staging (staging is industry jargon for a parking area where drivers wait for fares). The airport has temporary rules in place that forbids Uber from staging on airport property (we expect this issue will be worked out in the operating agreement that is being negotiated).

Staging sounds simple enough, but at an airport it’s anything but. Bottom line: we currently don’t have any place to stage them.

Drivers have suggestions:

  • “Put us in the cell phone lot.” The cell phone lot is for airport customers. It’s too small for both.

  • “Build us a parking lot.” Who’s going to pay for it? The airport is not obligated to build facilities free of charge for businesses that want to do business at the airport.

  • “Put us in the bus/shuttle parking lot.” That lot is designed for busses and shuttles.

The bus/shuttle parking lot is off the table for another reason as well: that lot is right next to the lot where taxi cabs stage. Uber has asked us specifically not to stage its drivers next to cab drivers. Why? Because when cabs and Ubers are staged close to one another it’s not uncommon for brawls to break out. If this sounds far-fetched, do a Google news search on the subject.

Uber drivers have responded to the rules by staging on the side of roadways that are off airport property. This has prompted some to say that parking on the side of the road is unsafe. In response, drivers blame the airport.

Well, the airport is working with their employer to figure out a solution. We’re confident something will be worked out.

Okay, enough of the back story, let’s move on to another, but related subject: how things work at the airport.

Some think the airport has an obligation to build facilities for a business that wants to do business here. Here’s how it really works and why …

While the airport is owned by the city of Springfield, it does not receive tax revenue from the city. The airport is set up as an “enterprise fund,” meaning that it must pay its own way.

The airport gets funding from two basic sources:

  • The federal government. The feds send us money through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). FAA money comes mainly from fees on airline tickets, aviation fuel and cargo shipments.

  • The rest of our funding comes from revenue that the airport generates. This includes income from fees and rents charged to airlines, restaurants, rental car companies, gift shops, etc. To put it simply: any business that does business at the airport must pay for the privilege of doing so.

It’s not us making that bold faced statement. It’s the federal government. Any airport that receives federal funds must play by this rule. Why? The feds want airports to as self-sufficient as possible (click here for a deep dive into the subject).

So bring the last paragraph around to the current situation. If Uber wants a staging lot it will work with the airport to figure out a funding source to pay for it. The Uber corporation understands that airports can’t provide free services for the company. Yet, its employees, on their own, are demanding accommodation that the airport is not obliged to provide. If we do provide it, it will be part of a formal operating agreement between corporate Uber and the airport.

 


 

We’re now shooting for a mid-December opening for the new parking areas in the long term parking lot. We’d hoped to have them open this month, but have been delayed by the late arrival of the new light towers. The manufacturer of the towers says we should have delivery in a couple of weeks. After that, they’ll have to be wired and mounted on their bases.

The need for additional parking is the result of the airport’s rapid passenger growth over the past couple of years (up about 11% since 2014).

Growth is good, but it’s been a headache for customers in the parking lots — several times this year we’ve run out of parking places. The short-term remedy has been to allow parking in the aisles and just about any nook and cranny that a car can fit in. We apologize for the inconvenience.

UBER TOO

Earlier this week Uber, the on-demand private car service, received permission to operate in Springfield. The airport and Uber will negotiate an operating agreement in the next few months, but in the short term Uber drivers will be allowed to pick-up customers in front of the airline terminal, at the west end of the front curb. Signs designating the pick-up area should be up by the end of today (Wednesday).

We expect Uber to be available here by the end of the week, perhaps as early as today or tomorrow.

 


Oct 20 2016 A Refund for Late Bags? BY sgf-adminTAGS Airlines

Those of you who fly frequently will likely find this story from the Associated Press of interest. In a nutshell: a new federal proposal would require airlines to "refund fees when checked bags are "substantially delayed."" But wait, there's more — and it's particularly interesting to those of us who work in the airport and airline industry. Check it out:

"One of the new rules would force airlines to report flight delays by all the planes that fly under their banner. Major carriers haven't been including flights operated by their regional airline partners in their performance reports to the government."

Yes, that's right. Every time you hear a media story about flight delays the numbers are WAY under reported. The numbers come from the federal Department of Transportation. The DOT doesn't tell the media that the numbers are under reported, and the media doesn't know any better.

There's at least one major airline that's always bragging about it's on time record. If this proposal becomes a rule, that will have to change!