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GoCatch joins Qantas frequent flyer fold

By Ben Butler

Uber rival GoCatch has inked a deal with Qantas’s frequent flyer scheme as the taxi hailing app considers expansion following the legalisation of ride-sharing in the ACT. From today, GoCatch users will receive points from the Qantas scheme when they use the app to book and pay for taxi trips costing more than $10. GoCatch chief executive Ned MoorfieldtoldThe Australianthe deal was exclusive for six months, locking other booking services and Uber out of the 10.8 millionmember Qantas scheme. Last November, Qantas’s key domestic competitor, Virgin, announced a frequent flyer hookup with Uber but pulled out within days following a backlash from the taxi industry and consumers. Uber remains illegal in all states and territories of Australia except the ACT, which last week said that from the end of this month it would allow the UberX service, where drivers use their own cars to ferry passengers, and slash taxi and hire-car licence fees. Mr Moorfield said the ACT’s deregulation of the industry was “a positive thing” but warned the local government needed to enforce the new rules. “We’ve always wanted to see lower fares, so reducing the licensing costs is obviously going to flow into lower fares. “We’re definitely for some more flexibility around this kind of hire-car class of drivers, where you can only pick up people at jobs, which is what the ACT is doing.” Mr Moorfield said GoCatch would “look to play in that space”. “I’m a little bit disappointed to see the ACT has actually used the term ride-sharing all through their announcement, because I really think the term is a misnomer,” he said. “It’s not sharing, it’s someone charging somebody else to drive them somewhere, so they’ve kind of been sucked in by the terminology Uber puts around.” He said GoCatch “always wanted to play by the rules”. “So if the regulations in the ACT allow us to offer something a bit more competitive, that’s a good thing.” He said the ACT needed to be careful that it was not replacing the existing taxi monopoly with one run by Uber. “I hope that the regulations allow for a decent amount of competition,” he said. Unlike Uber, which is an American company that runs its Australian operations through a complex series of offshore entities, GoCatch is Australian, a fact Mr Moorfield said was attractive to the nation’s flag carrier, Qantas. “Qantas reached out to us earlier this year,” Mr Moorfield said. “One of the things that I know drew them to us was that we are staying only in that accredited space. “It obviously tied in well with their customers and getting to and from the airport, which is a pretty significant part of our business.” Founded in 2011, GoCatch is backed by heavyweight investors including fund manager David Paradice, Paul Bassat’s Square Peg fund and Alex Turnbull, the son of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Mr Moorfield said GoCatch had “pretty much tripled” its revenues after increasing the fee it charged drivers to be part of the system. “We’re getting close to breakeven and (will) go beyond that next year.”