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Lyft becomes first ride-hailing app to service Las Vegas' airport, beating Uber

The company's victory is likely to be short-lived

John Sciulli/Getty Images

In Las Vegas, luck is a commodity few can afford to waste. As such, ride-hailing service Lyft may want to hit the craps table sometime soon, because the gods are smiling on it: on Monday, the company announced that it had beaten its main rival Uber to become the first transportation network company (TNC) to service McCarran International Airport, through which an average 4 million domestic and international passengers stream every month.

The announcement came a week after the Clark County Commission gave the green light to Lyft, Uber, and other app-based car service companies to apply for licenses in Las Vegas and begin shuttling passengers to and from the airport. The deal also lowers the license fee for drivers to $25 from $50 and gives the airport a cut. After setting up "geofencing technology" to designate where Lyft and its rivals can pick up passengers — which according to Lyft is at the parking garages across from both terminal 1 and 3 — the airport can collect $2.45 for every TNC passenger picked up or dropped off.

Uber wouldn't explain the hold up

The airport represents a golden goose for TNCs, which have only just begun to operate in Sin City after a protracted but successful fight with regulators and lobbyists for the traditional taxi industry. "Representatives of Uber and Lyft beelined to the Clark County Business License office after the meeting to sign the paperwork to enable drivers to acquire temporary licenses," the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

To celebrate, Lyft is offering riders $5 off for two rides going to and from the airport. And in a statement Lyft thanked the Clark County Commission and McCarran's leadership for "embracing the benefits Lyft brings to travelers." But that back-slapping could be short-lived depending on how long it takes for Uber to win approval from the airport, which according to the company is less a matter of if than when. Still, it is unclear what the hold-up for Uber is, or what the timetable is for the company's approval, which gives Lyft a pretty significant leg-up over its main competitor in the short term.

A spokesperson for McCarran said both companies were given the requirements at the same time, but Lyft signed its temporary operating agreement while Uber remains mired in the application process. Uber's top official in Nevada said its negotiations with the airport were ongoing.

"Uber is dedicated to serving riders and drivers at McCarran, and to continuing a thorough process with Airport Officials," said Uber's Nevada general manager Jason Radisson in a statement. "Our priority is to reach a resolution that ensures rider and driver safety along with the best user experience, as quickly as possible."