Business & Economy

Uber and Wingz ridesharing allowed at Orange County's John Wayne Airport

Photo by Joakim Formo via Flickr Creative Commons

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Ridesharing companies Uber and Wingz began providing pick-up services at John Wayne Airport this week, after Orange County officials approved month-to-month permits on Monday, while negotiations for pick-up services at Los Angeles International Airport are still ongoing.

In response to the demand for alternative commuting services, John Wayne Airport officials began negotiating with the ridesharing companies a year ago, said airport spokesperson Jenny Wedge.

“They wanted to operate there and rather than us push back, we might as well address these new services,” she said.

The state Public Utilities Commission that regulates ridesharing companies have permitted eight different businesses like Uber to operate, but only two have applied for pick-up permits in Orange County, according to Wedge.

Under the agreement, Uber and Wingz will pay $2.25 for each ride, and drivers are not allowed to enter airport premises until a ride has been requested and confirmed for pick-up.

This eases some of the friction between the tightly restricted taxi companies that carry extra auto insurance; are subject to vehicle inspections; and are required to do fingerprinted background checks. 

But because the airport can’t easily determine an Uber or Wingz driver from private drivers, the companies are self-reporting the number of rides they complete each month. In the future, the John Wayne Airport plans to use “geofencing,” a virtual perimeter software program that is being tested at San Francisco International Airport to track cars entering and exiting airport premises.


Uber, Wingz and other ridesharing drivers are not officially allowed to pick up passengers at Los Angeles International Airport, according to spokesperson Katherine Alvarado.

They are however allowed to drop off at the airport.

Despite this, ridesharing drivers and passengers do find ways to connect at LAX, Alvarado said.

The arrangement is similar at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank.

Rideshare drivers are allowed to pick up customers in designated parking areas, and they most often choose to do so in the short term parking structure,” said airport spokesperson Victor Gill in an email. “They are obliged to pay the parking fee associated with the lot they choose to use.”

The struggle to design a permitting process for ridesharing companies at LAX is in part because of its size.

Last year, LAX serviced 70.7 million passengers, according to its website. John Wayne is a smaller airport, with around nine million passengers in 2014. And while there are just two cab companies at John Wayne Airport, there are nine taxi franchises at Los Angeles. And those taxicab companies have strongly opposed ridesharing.