The Canberra Airport has officially welcomed Uber with a dedicated pick-up lounge, while Uber says its smartphone app no longer blocks Canberra Airport pick-ups.
The agreement was announced on Monday, after six months of discussions and nine months after Uber was legally introduced in the ACT.
But it appears Uber drivers had been collecting customers from the airport despite the restrictions, with some people being told airport pick-ups were allowed.
Canberra Airport managing director Stephen Byron said that as of Monday, passengers could order an Uber from the airport through the app and be directed to an airconditioned Uber pick-up lounge. Signage was also installed around the airport.
"This is the first time an airport in Australia has reached an agreement with Uber," Mr Byron said.
"One of the things with the technology of the Uber App is that it tells customers where the specific location [of the lounge] is."
An Uber spokesman said the Uber app did not previously allow customers to enter the airport as a pick-up location. But he said riders may have ordered drivers from just outside the airport premises.
However, a March email obtained by Fairfax Media sent from an Uber support team worker to a confused customer read that "you can absolutely request and be picked up at the Canberra airport".
"Each airport has different requirements, so make sure to touch base with your driver to arrange pick-up," it read.
Similarly, one month after Uber launched in the ACT, The Canberra Times compared taxi and Uber rides from the city to the Canberra Airport and back, stating the $3 charge Uber drivers were required to pay to pick up passengers at Canberra Airport. The Uber spokesman confirmed on Monday that this surcharge now formally applies.
The spokesman also said the March email was a misunderstanding and that other riders and drivers were aware pick-ups from Canberra Airport are were not allowed before Monday.
Mr Byron acknowledged "people may have been making [pick-ups from the airport] work," but said "legal complexities" had prolonged the formal agreement process.
He expected passenger waiting times during peak hours to reduce now inbound passengers to Canberra could use Uber from the airport.
"Careful planning went into the new terminal around what future ground transport might look like and our investment ahead of time means we can appropriately accommodate different modes of transport," Mr Byron said.
"Just as we have an air-conditioned indoor taxi rank for customers choosing cabs, so we have an air-conditioned lounge tailored to the needs of ride-sharing customers."
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr welcomed the move and said "it comes just in time for the arrival of direct international flights to the ACT... which will begin in September".
According to Uber, 11 per cent of international visitors to Australia use the ridesharing service.
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