Christmas cheer for Uber in Turkey as Court of Appeals lifts nationwide ban

An appeals court in Turkey has ruled to lift the block on popular transportation application Uber. The news was confirmed on Uber’s Turkey Twitter account on Christmas Eve.

In their first post since April 2020, Uber Türkiye wrote:

“We are very pleased the block on Uber in Turkey has been cancelled following a decision by the Appeals court. Our application will continue to serve Istanbulites along with yellow taxis. We’re excited to meet with our users in Turkey again. Together towards a beautiful future! #UberAnew”

Uber allows the city’s iconic yellow taxi drivers to sign up as Uber drivers and obtain customers through the app.

The US-based firm entered Turkey in 2014 and quickly amassed a major following, with an estimated 4.5 million Turks downloading the app. In Istanbul, some 14,000 taxi drivers of the city’s 17,500 registered drivers are said to have signed up to the service.

However, some drivers and taxi firms objected to Uber’s presence. The app was banned in Turkey  in October 2019, when a court in Istanbul upheld a claim by the city’s Taxi Drivers Association that they were facing “unfair competition”.

The previous year, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had waded into the debate, backing the national Taxi Drivers Association’s call to ban the app. The president said Uber was “finished” in Turkey in a speech he made on 1 June 2018, a few weeks before the General Election:

“This thing called Uber emerged. That business is finished. That does not exist anymore,” he said, adding, “We have our taxi system.”

Before the ban in October 2019, Uber Türkiye had thousands of Istanbul’s blue & yellow taxi drivers signed up to its service

Uber has provoked strong protests in numerous countries where it operates, including in Britain and France, after local firms and taxi drivers suffer a fall in their work and income. Those opposed to the app claim the US firm is able to circumvent local rules and taxes due to its business model, giving them an unfair edge.

For Turkish consumers, however, the convenience of the app with its smart features, including giving an estimated price for the ride, telling you how far away your driver is, and tracking your journey along a pre-established route, helped overcome bad practices employed by some taxi drivers, which in turn drove mass take-up of the service.


Main image, top, of an Uber driver holding smartphone in a car in Antalya, 21 Dec. 2020, for illustrative purposes only. Photo © Burak Guler / shutterstock