Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Uber: 900 new ‘economic opportunities’ would be created with access to airport

By on February 28, 2017

SAN JUAN – If the government allowed Uber drivers access to Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, the travel company would invest an additional $700,000 in marketing annually on the island, while creating 900 “new economic opportunities” for Puerto Ricans.

Juan Andión, the general manager of Uber in the Caribbean, said at a press conference Tuesday that these “economic opportunities” represent new drivers that would join the nearly 4,000 who already work part- or full-time for the California-based ride-hailing company.

Andión noted that since the company arrived on the island, Uber drivers have made more than 77,000 trips to Muñoz Marín Airport, as it is prohibited to pick up passengers.

Juan Andión, general manager of Uber in the Caribbean, explained that if the company were allowed access to Muñoz Marín Airport, it could employ 900 new drivers. (Cindy Burgos / CB)

Juan Andión, general manager of Uber in the Caribbean, explained that if the company were allowed access to Muñoz Marín Airport, it could employ 900 new drivers. (Cindy Burgos / CB)

In the same period, more than 153,000 people have wanted to request an Uber ride from the airport, but have not been able to. Of those registered requests, 56,000 were from “tourists from 80 countries,” according to data the company corroborated with the government, Andión said.

“These are quite large numbers, which when we’re looking to turn Puerto Rico into the ultimate destination in the Caribbean, we have to give tourists options to choose where they move about to, how they move and who they use […] More than 120,000 people have signed the petition for Uber to be at the airport,” the Uber manager in the Caribbean said.

Uber has already petitioned the government to operate at the airport and is waiting for a decision, and continues talks with both government representatives and executives of Aerostar Airport Holdings, which will be operating the airport for the next 40 years.

Believes in Deregulating the Market

Amid times when the government is considering to change the current law so Uber can compete on equal terms as taxi and public transportation drivers, Uber’s general manager stated he favored deregulation for all competitors.

“When you talk about regulating, what you do is add costs to the system, and the only person at disadvantage is the user…. Regulating something that isn’t broken is a step backward,” said Andión, who believes that technology “substitutes certain restrictions,” especially in terms of safety.

Regarding some Uber drivers’ discontent with the company’s 24% rate reduction in Puerto Rico, Andión explained it has resulted in a 40% increase in trips. He added that the company is open to dialogue with its associates.

However, when asked by Caribbean Business, the executive refused to provide specific data on how many Uber trips are registered in Puerto Rico before and after the rate reduction. He claimed that, because it is a private business, there are data he can’t reveal in order to prevent competition from knowing its exact numbers. Under that same premise, he declined to provide numbers on the company’s general investment and marketing on the island, simply saying it pays its corresponding taxes.

As for international criticism against the company and the possibility of its departure from Puerto Rico if it doesn’t reach an agreement with the government, Andión said “Uber believes it should offer a mobility option for users.”

The company’s mobile app is available in 72 countries and nearly 500 cities.

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