Road & Rail

Is Ola about to say adiós to Australia?

Ola’s recent company restructure in Australia has the speculation wheel turning about whether the ridesharing player is set to pull the pin on its local operations.

There’s no doubt that COVID-19 has hampered the growth of ridesharing companies globally, but Ola’s Aussie presence is noticeably smaller now than prior to the pandemic, with the company reportedly making the majority of its local employees redundant.

Having joined Ola back in 2018 as its local boss, The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Simon Smith has left the company.

According to the nine-owned masthead, Ola has also closed its driver centres in Australia “until further notice”, and it no longer has a personal accident insurance program in place for drivers.

Ola’s former Australian managing director, Simon Smith.

But, the ridesharing player, which competes against the likes of Uber and Didi locally, insists that it is committed to sticking it out Down Under.

“Australia, in no uncertain terms, is a key market for Ola, and we are focused on growing our business in the region,” an Ola spokesperson told Travel Weekly.

“We continue to operate with great energy and success for providing a safe and trusted ride-share service for Australian customers and driver partners in more than 30 cities across the country.

“As part of our efforts to drive greater synergies and efficiencies in the business, we have made some changes in our organisational structure.

“We are committed to the region and shall continue to invest in high growth opportunities, setting a strong foundation for realising our long-term ambitions.”

Ola was established in India just under 10 years ago, and Australia happened to be the first overseas market that the company expanded to in 2018.

In July, Ola launched a corporate travel offering to support local businesses as their staff returned to the office following state and territory lockdowns.

Ola wouldn’t be the first ridesharing company to exit the Australian market due to the impacts of COVID-19, with Bolt (formerly known as Taxify) closing its local operations in April.

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