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Uber and Lyft will drop off, pick up at Syracuse Airport

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Ride-booking apps like Uber and Lyft will soon be able to pick up and drop off passengers at Syracuse Hancock International Airport.

Airport executive director Christina Callahan said the airport and Lyft are working on a contract that they hope will be resolved by June 29, which is the earliest the apps can operate in Upstate New York. Uber hasn't yet reached out about its own operation at the airport, she said.

A local taxi company, Syracuse Regional Taxi Company, currently has the sole contract to pick up passengers as they come off planes at the airport. Other taxi companies can pick up passengers if they arrange a ride beforehand.

Local taxi drivers have said they think the apps' arrival in Syracuse could badly hurt their businesses. The apps allow passengers to bypass taxis by hitching rides with private vehicle owners who drive for the app.

Callahan said she did not know what the impact might be on the taxi company with the airport contract. The company's owner, Mark Ilacqua, declined to comment.

The apps were authorized to operate in Upstate when the state budget was passed in April. At the moment, New York City is the only place in New York where the apps can be used.

Callahan said the airport and Lyft are putting together a contract that governs the apps' behavior at the airport, including where drivers can wait for passengers and the type of software they use to record their activities.

The contract will also establish the fees the apps will pay the airport for operating there. The apps will pay a flat fee at the beginning of the contract and then a per-ride fee, she said.

The amount the apps will pay the airport hasn't been decided yet, Callahan said. The apps paid airports in in California flat fees ranging from $240 in Bakersfield to $74,000 at LAX, in addition to per-ride fees between $1.25 and $4, according to a document Callahan provided

Callahan said the airport doesn't have the authority to ban the apps from operating there outright but can "regulate" them through the airport's ground transportation regulations.

The state budget authorized Uber and Lyft to come to Upstate by July 9, but state legislators in both chambers have passed a bill that would allow them to come here by June 29.

That bill speeding up the apps' arrival has been sent to Cuomo's desk. He hasn't signed it yet but a spokesman told the Albany Times Union the governor is "inclined to" sign it.

The law allows counties and cities over 100,000 population to prohibit the apps from operating within their borders. Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner has said she wants the apps to operate in Syracuse.

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