Prague Airport Set to Finalize Contract with Uber Following Regulatory Hurdles

Prague Airport is on the cusp of sealing a pivotal agreement with ride-sharing giant Uber, marking a significant development in the airport’s efforts to modernize its taxi services. Originally scheduled to commence operations at the airport in February, Uber’s entry into the Prague market faced substantial delays owing to administrative proceedings at the Office for the Protection of Competition (ÚOHS), stemming from a legal challenge filed by Tick Tack, a local taxi operator.

In a major turn of events, the competition authority, in June of this year, rejected Tick Tack’s challenge, citing a lack of substantial grounds for corrective measures. Furthermore, the authority dismissed a portion of the case due to procedural irregularities in Tick Tack’s objections. Subsequently, Tick Tack appealed this decision to the Office’s Chairman, Petr Mlsna, who overturned the initial ruling, effectively putting an end to the administrative proceedings.

The pivotal factor in Chairman Mlsna’s decision was Tick Tack’s withdrawal from the concession procedure after filing the appeal, effectively forfeiting their right to contest the tender terms before the Office for Competition and Consumer Protection.

Martin Schwanda, spokesperson for the Office for Competition and Consumer Protection, explained, “During the second-instance proceedings, the applicant withdrew from the concession procedure, thus forfeiting the right to appeal against the contracting authority’s process.”

With the Chairman’s decision now finalized, Prague Airport can proceed with the long-awaited contract with Uber. Originally poised to launch its taxi services in February, Uber had to postpone its debut to May due to the legal challenges posed by Tick Tack.

In May, an airport spokesperson announced that Tick Tack, a member of the Taxi Praha group that has been serving the airport alongside Fix since 2016, would continue to provide cab services until the prosecutor’s office proceedings were resolved.

Iwona Kruk from Uber’s press office expressed their satisfaction with the recent developments, stating, “As previously stated, Uber has met all the requirements outlined in the official operator tender. We are delighted that the Competition Authority has determined there are no grounds for further hindrance in signing the contract, allowing us to commence operations that eager passengers have been awaiting. Over the past few months, we have been diligently developing a specialized product and are fully prepared to begin our work.”

Under the terms of the current tender, the selected operator must establish the final fare before each trip, calculated by software. Furthermore, the final fare must not exceed the agreed-upon price, even in situations involving route changes or traffic delays.

The operator is also responsible for ensuring mandated service quality and safety standards, maintaining a fleet of vehicles no older than three years, and requiring drivers to exhibit courteous behavior, including proficiency in English and at least basic Czech language skills. Cashless payment options will always be available, and the operator must maintain an adequate number of vehicles at the airport to meet current demand, including accessible vehicles for passengers with disabilities or families with children.

In summary, the imminent contract between Prague Airport and Uber represents a significant step forward in the modernization of taxi services at the airport, promising enhanced convenience and quality for travelers while opening up new opportunities for ride-sharing services in the Czech capital.

Article by Prague Forum

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