According to early reports, taxi drivers aggravated with the current competition of private cars like Uber lashed out in a vicious attack at Charles-de-Gaulle airport in Paris over the weekend.
Rude Baguette is reporting that there have been “no less than a dozen confirmed incidents in Paris & Lyon,” which Uber has confirmed. Apparently, as Borlongan and Visage were leaving the airport, multiple assailants approached their vehicle and slashed tires, broke windows, and attempted to enter the vehicle. Borlongan live-tweeted the event, later specifying that her driver was able to pull their car to safety and change the slashed tire.
Allegedly, the protestors, are demanding the government to confront the current laws impacting taxi drivers, which currently requires chauffeurs to get an expensive taxi license. Services like Uber, LeCab, Chauffeur-Privé, Drive, Snapcar and Allocab are cutting into their business.
The Parisian government has addressed concerns about taxi competition. In September a 15-minute law was instated requiring all “chauffer” apps to wait 15 minutes from the time a ride is ordered to pick up passengers. The strategy is an attempt to assuage taxi drivers and even out the playing field. Apparently though, taxi chauffeurs did not think the 15-minute law was adequate.
Uber’s GM of France Pierre-Dimitry Gore-Coty responded to this morning’s incidents saying:
“…First, we are very glad all involved are safe and ok. Also, we would like to praise our partner who has shown great courage and professionalism, who focused on getting his customers out of a very challenging situation. That the taxis chose to use violence is unacceptable, that they chose to strike is their business. However, Parisians also have a choice when it comes to moving around in their cities, and today’s incident will certainly not tempt Parisians into choosing a taxi for their next ride. Safety, reliability and choice, not violence, are what continues to draw customers towards VTCs.”
France, a protest-laden country, has seen the likes of other aggressive protest tactics which at one point last year forced Vélib’, Paris’ bike-share program, to radically reduce the size of its fleet due to vandalism. This begs the question of whether this morning’s protests will reduce or affect the livery app business over the coming year, Gore-Coty thinks it will actually push customers to choose private cars more frequently.