French airports saw union violence today as demonstrators hurled rocks and paint at travellers using the innovative taxi service, Uber.
Entrepreneur Kat Borlongan, had the windows of her taxi smashed and tyres slashed while travelling from Charles de Gaulle earlier today.
Five taxi unions have brought their strength to bear to protest against services provided by the likes of Uber, napCar, LeCa and Chauffeur Privé. Today, as many as 5,000 taxi drivers may be striking across France.
Uber confirmed the attack in an email:
Unfortunately, I can confirm this morning’s incident in Paris occurred and we strongly condemn this severe violence two of our riders and our partner were confronted with.
That the taxis chose to use violence today 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 private hire vehicles.
Recent regulations passed to hamper the new entrants have so far failed to appease the unions. The so called "15-minute law" requires taxi apps to wait 15 minutes after customers order a taxi to pick them up.
The unions have issued fresh calls for the period to be extended to 30 minutes.
The protest speaks volumes as to the lack of innovation in the Paris taxi market, which has roughly the same number of cabs as in 1950.
However, the militancy of the taxi unions and the regulatory authority of the French state have failed to dampen customer enthusiasm for the new services. Outside of the US, Paris is one of Uber's two biggest markets, the second being London.
In an industry that started from nothing a few years ago there are now a host of app-based service companies with close to 12,000 vehicles.