Hollywood’s limousine businesses in limbo as coronavirus pandemic causes financial hit

Local limousine companies across the city say their businesses have taken an 80 to 85% hit in the past six months

If ridesharing wasn’t already eating into the profits of the limousine and livery car business in Los Angeles, the coronavirus pandemic has seemingly rendered such services obsolete in the new age of social distancing.

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“This was not on any of our business plans. Terrorist attacks, stock crashes, all that stuff, we had a backup for 90 days to 120 days for our business, but not with things like a pandemic,” KLS Worldwide Chauffeured Services founder Alex Darbahanin recently told The Hollywood Reporter.

“Imagine your company making $2.5 million a month; suddenly, the next day you wake up and your company is making $340,000. That’s a huge hit,” Darbahani said of the grave downturn that has forced KLS to lay off 75% of its staff.

The drastic lapse in business can be felt across the board and local limousine companies throughout the city reported their businesses have taken an 80 to 85% hit in the past six months.

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Kevin Costner during MGM Distribution Co. "Mr. Brooks" Los Angeles Premiere at Grauman's Chinese Theater in Los Angeles, Calif. (Photo by E. Charbonneau/WireImage for MGM)

On March 2, Darbahani’s company had booked 260 events for the year, which is just over half of the roughly 500 it does annually.

Now, nearly all of those gigs, which include events like show and film premieres, awards shows, business meetings and run-of-the-mill shuttles top and from production sets and airports have since been canceled, according to THR.

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Darbahani said missing just one week of Emmys transportation alone hit the company to the tune of $400,000 as he typically dispatches a fleet of 98 limos to chauffeur around guests on the night of.

But this year, due to the awards occurring virtually, only 12 Emmy rides were booked.

“All of the production, the award shows, all of that, has just come to a grinding halt,” Limousine Connection director of operations Kristin Hundley told the publication. “90% of that has gone away.”

To help supplement the loss, the company has resorted to driving patients to dialysis and chemotherapy appointments.

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Furthermore, the company is seeing a slight improvement to private-car bookings from passengers who don’t want to take any chances with Uber or Lyft due to health concerns.

“Uber’s telling their drivers to wear masks, but it’s inconsistent,” Hundley claimed. “There’s nobody that’s policing it, whereas we’re able to police it a lot better.”

KLS is seeing a slight improvement to private-car bookings from passengers who don’t want to take any chances with Uber or Lyft due to health concerns. (AP)

With some Hollywood productions resuming productions, KLS is confident they’ll see a sizable uptick, especially from its largest clients, Netflix and Showtime.

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“We see movement right now, slowly,” said Darbahani, who estimates business is now 34%of what it was this time last year.