Starting Friday, ride-hailing services Uber and Lyft will be able to pick up passengers at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.

Drivers with those companies have been allowed to drop off travelers at the Honolulu airport, but they lacked the proper permits from the state to pick people up there.  That now changes under a three-month pilot program announced Thursday by the state Department of Transportation.

Honolulu’s airport was among the last of the nation’s top airports, by number of flights, to allow ride-hailing pickups, according to an Uber statement.

Aloha Welcome to Hawaii Honolulu Airport1
Airline passengers arriving in Honolulu will be able to request rides from Uber or Lyft starting Friday. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Travelers whose flights have just landed can now hail those drivers using Uber and Lyft’s phone apps, and then wait for pickup at two designated airport locations: at the Interisland Terminal across from Lobby 2, and at the Overseas Terminal across from Lobby 8. The curbs there will be painted black, according to a DOT statement.

Both Uber and DOT touted the program for giving travelers more options to leave the airport. Negotiations to give the two ride-hailing giants access to pickups there started more than a year ago, according to DOT spokesman Tim Sakahara.

“We’re going to be watching it” to see what, if any, changes need to be made over the next three months, Sakahara said. “In theory we think it’ll work.”

The companies will pay 7 percent of each pickup in user fees to help fund the airport — just as taxis and other transportation companies that operate there do, he said.

The pilot program could face pushback from those traditional companies, Sakahara said. Nonetheless, state officials believe there’s sufficient demand for rides from the airport to benefit all drivers.

“It’s not for us to play favorites or do anything that might benefit one company over another company,” Sakahara said.

Taxi companies have been debating with Uber and Lyft representatives at the state and city levels regarding what regulations should apply to the ride-hailing companies.

In August 2016, two Lyft drivers were arrested at the airport as part of a state sting operation into unauthorized drivers picking up passengers there.  The sting was prompted by concerns that drivers were picking up rides illegally, or without following the rules, Sakahara said.

About the Author