At the same time, some airports have had to add staff to oversee the operations of the ride-hailing companies, the report said. And with more ride-hailing vehicles on the roads outside terminals, there’s more congestion.
“Airports are expected to be self-sufficient and not be a drain on the public purse,” said Ray Mundy, director of the Center for Transportation Studies at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. “Airports have to find other sources of revenue.”
Henry Harteveldt, travel analyst for Atmosphere Research, said the current declines in income are just the tip of the iceberg. As autonomous cars gain traction, he said, “the airport parking gravy train is going to dry up.” The future, he said, could bring less ticket counter space and more retail and food and beverage offerings, as airports struggle to come up with revenue to replace what they have lost.
The Federal Aviation Administration reported in November that the $4 billion in fees collected last year for parking and ground transportation represented nearly 42 percent of the $9.6 billion in airport revenue from sources other than airline fees. Money collected from rental car companies, excluding the fees that airport operators charge rental car customers to help pay for the construction of new facilities, added an additional nearly $1.8 billion. The combination far exceeded the fees the airports collected from food and beverage outlets, stores and hotels.
To generate revenue, some airports have started to charge ride-hailing services to pick up or drop off passengers. But it’s an inconsistent patchwork. Although 48 states have passed legislation governing ride hailing, the laws in 43 of the states and Washington, D.C., cover operating permits and fees, background check requirements, operational standards and passenger protections. (The laws in the other five states are less comprehensive.) Only 23 of the states explicitly grant airports the authority to impose standards or fees for operations on airport property, said Maarit Moran, an associate transportation researcher at Texas A&M Transportation Institute.
Some airports ban ride-hailing companies or impose restrictions on where they may drop off or pick up passengers. The decision, Mr. Mundy said, is up to the airport owner or operator and subject to the state laws that govern ride-hailing companies.
At the end of October, Lyft operated at about 300 airports nationwide. Uber estimates that it serves more than 150 airports in North America.
Fresno Yosemite International Airport in California is one airport that said it’s feeling an economic pinch. The airport is served by Lyft; Uber discontinued service this year rather than comply with an airport operating agreement, a Fresno Yosemite spokeswoman said.
“Our parking revenue growth is no longer tracking our passenger growth,” said Kevin Meikle, director of aviation for the City of Fresno. The airport is looking at an estimated $250,000 in lost income this year.
Darren Perry, a managing director in the aviation and travel practice at L.E.K. Consulting in Boston, said the decline in fees for airports could become a major problem. “If that were to persist it would be difficult for the airports,” he said.
Pat Kinsel, chief executive of an electronic notary company, is one traveler who has switched to a ride-hailing service. He says that when he travels from his home in Boston to Logan International Airport, he usually takes Uber. “I gave up driving to increase time and efficiency,” he said.
Another frequent traveler, Mark Lowenstein, a telecommunications consultant based in Boston, said he switched after reserved taxis stood him up.
Airports, in the meantime, are finding ways to make parking if not more appealing, then more easily navigable. While frequent parking clubs have existed in some places for a decade, these programs at airports now have new relevance.
For $200 a month prepaid, for example, passengers can join Premier Parking at Jacksonville International Airport and get a guaranteed parking space within 200 feet of the terminal. They also get a preferred passenger card that allows them to join an often-shorter security lane also used by airport employees and military personnel in uniform. The program currently has a small waiting list.
At Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, frequent travelers who belong to Passport Parking pay $350 a month to get unlimited access to the airport garage on the Terminal Direct Floor.
Logan International has a Passport Gold program. There’s a one-time enrollment fee of $200. Annual renewal is $100. Fees are higher than standard rates, but parking is guaranteed, as is proximity to the terminals.
Two of the New York area airports offer online reservations for a $5 fee — Kennedy Airport and Newark Liberty Airport. La Guardia Airport charges a fee of $2 a day. The website for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates all three, recommends passengers book a flight and parking at the same time.
Airport parking also faces competition from off-airport hotels. “Hotels can forecast very accurately how much parking capacity is available on any given day,” said Bjorn Hanson, clinical professor at the Jonathan M. Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism at New York University. They can gain revenue, he said, for little additional expense.
Parking websites also contribute to potential shortfalls. Jody Martin, a paralegal in metropolitan Atlanta, said she did not park at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. “It’s priced ridiculously,” she said in an email.
Instead, when she flew to Bermuda for 12 days in July, she used the website ParkSleepFly to stay for one night at the Westin Atlanta Airport for $124. The price included parking for the duration of her trip. And she took a shuttle bus to the airport from the hotel. (Parking at Hartsfield-Jackson ranges from $10 a day for the distant park-and-ride lots to $36 a day at lots close to the terminals.)
Some apps don’t require a hotel stay. The search engine BestParking.com works with over 110 airports in North America on its website. And the Parking Spot is near 21 airports, with Charlotte Douglas International Airport coming soon. It has its own frequent parking program.
As complex as airport parking rates are now, Mr. Perry, the aviation consultant, said, airports could be more creative. “Parking is one of the most underutilized resources,” he said, and with technology, parking prices can be adjusted by the day of the week, time of day, location and level of service.
Some airport economists say it’s only a matter of time before fees for ride-hailing companies approach those of traditional taxi companies. Mr. Mundy, of the University of Missouri, said he did not expect ride-hailing companies “to continue to expand at the same rate” once fares rise to cover costs. And, he said, airports may also impose new fees.
Some airports in Britain already charge private vehicles that are dropping off or picking up friends and relatives. At Heathrow and Gatwick airports around London, private vehicles can still drop off passengers without charge. But there is a fee for picking up passengers at Heathrow (drivers are required to pay to park at a short-term lot). Gatwick is free for picking up passengers only if drivers use the long-stay parking lot and use a shuttle bus to the terminal.
Similar fees may be coming to the United States. Officials at Logan, in Boston, are looking at whether such fees, along with improved mass transportation, can reduce pollution and congestion.
Mr. Kinsel, the ride-hailing enthusiast, is staying the course. On a recent trip to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, he said, he ordered a car from Uber as the plane pulled up to the gate. He was downtown in less than 15 minutes after the plane landed. “It was the equivalent of having a private car,” he said.