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Less than a month into the job, new Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is headed to London to try to negotiate the restoration of the company’s operating license in the British capital.
On September 22, Transport for London (TfL) ruled that Uber was unfit to operate as it decided not to renew the company’s license, which is due to expire on Saturday. TfL cited previous issues reporting criminal offenses and background checks on drivers, calling Uber not “fit and proper” to operate in London. According to Reuters, Khosrowshahi will meet with Mike Brown, the head of the London transport system, on Tuesday.
News of Khosrowshahi’s meeting closely follows Prime Minister Theresa May’s statement that the London withdrawal of Uber is “disproportionate,” putting thousands of jobs at risk. The prime minister acknowledged safety concerns associated with the ride-hailing company, but called for a level playing field between private firms like Uber and London taxis.
London is one of Uber’s most important global markets, with nearly 3.5 million passengers and 40,000 drivers using the app. After the TfL announced its decision to revoke Uber’s license, more than 800,000 Londoners have signed a petition supporting Uber. And following Khosrowshahi’s apology earlier this week, London mayor Sadiq Khan appears open to discussions, reportedly asking the TfL to be available to meet with him.
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An Uber spokesman said that Khosrowshahi “is looking forward to meeting with the Commissioner next week. As he said on Monday, we want to work with London to make things right.”
While Uber may be eager to make nice, there is one group that is not so unhappy with the TfL ruling. Addison Lee, which is the second biggest private ride company in London behind Uber, sees an opportunity to gain more riders from Uber’s ban. The company plans to increase its 3,600 drivers in London to approximately 4,450. But Uber will still be able to operate in the capital until the appeals process has been completed, which could take months.