App-based taxi service Ola Cabs is likely to charge a hefty fee over and above its regular fares for rides from Mumbai airport. Competitor Uber introduced such a fee – a whopping Rs 110 – a couple of weeks ago, after Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) imposed a Rs 110 parking fee on every tourist vehicle that enters the airport to pick up passengers.
“Presently, we are not passing on the extra charge to passengers at the airport but we may take a final call on this issue next week,” said an Ola Cabs spokesperson.
The extra charge angered many frequent fliers, who said that app-based cab services were not just more convenient but also cheaper than other options at the airport – radio cabs and regular pre-paid black-and-yellow taxis.
“I have used mobile apps to book a cab at the airport more than three times and the turnaround time each time has been excellent. The added charge will cancel out the lower fares offered by these operators,” said A Gupta, an entrepreneur from Thane.
According to Ola’s website, a ride in a small car or an economy sedan costs Rs 100 for the first four kilometres and Rs 11 to Rs 13 for every subsequent every kilometre. The same ride in a radio cab from Meru or EasyCabs would cost Rs 27 for the first km and Rs 20 for every subsequent km.
This means a person who lives in Borivali (W) – 19 km the airport – would pay between Rs 265 and Rs 295 (excluding taxes) for ride home in an Ola cab. The same journey would cost Rs 320 in an Uber cab, according to the fare estimate on the company’s website, and Rs 387 in a radio cab. A pre-paid black-and-yellow cab, meanwhile, would cost around Rs 300. If Ola follows Uber and passes on the parking fee to airport passengers, its cost advantage will disappear.
But even without this advantage, many people with smartphones will continue to prefer app-based services over old-school prepaid cabs as complaints of haggling over luggage charges and tips by the latter remain common, according to airport sources. “Why would anybody take a black-and-yellow cab when you can get a ride in an air-conditioned sedan for the same price or even cheaper?” asked Dahisar resident Ranjit Bakshi.
A MIAL spokesperson said the Rs 110 parking fee will remain as it aims to reduce traffic congestion inside and outside the terminal. “The parking fee was introduced to avoid unnecessary congestion of vehicles in the departure area. These [app-based] taxi operators can join the other fleets in our parking area,” said the spokesperson.