Ride-sharing companies one step closer to picking up passengers at Sky Harbor

The Phoenix Aviation Board approved a proposal that will allow ride-sharing companies to pick up passengers from the airport. (Photo by Ben Margiott/Cronkite News)

The proposal that would allow ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft to pick up passengers at the airport cleared another hurdle Thursday afternoon.

The controversial measure, which would drastically alter the airport’s fee structure for ground transportation, was barely approved in a 5-4 vote by the Phoenix Aviation Advisory Board.

Uber and Lyft are already permitted to drop off passengers on Sky Harbor Boulevard, but if the measure passes the Phoenix City Council later this spring, those services could pick up passengers too.

Board members claimed the revamp was a much-needed overhaul of an outdated and unfair policy for some companies.

“We surveyed the top-20 U.S. airports in the nation and Sky Harbor is the only airport that has yet to modernize our ground transportation policy,” Chad Makovsky, assistant aviation director, said. “Some commercial operators are paying fees that specifically subsidize the operation of other competing businesses.”

Uber and Lyft would be new operators under the policy, meaning their per-trip fee would immediately jump up to $4 — existing operators would be phased into the seat-based fee plan.

But off-site airport parking services argued their $6 per-trip fee would put them out of business, thereby eliminating around 200 jobs between the different companies.

“(The $6 fee) doesn’t sound like a lot but if you consider the number of trips we do every year, it would total for us about $400,000 per year which is absolutely catastrophic to my business,” David Warren, owner of Blue Sky Airport parking, said.