On July 18, a new consolidated rental car center opened at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport with the usual fanfare and dignitaries trumpeting a host of customer conveniences and environmental benefits.
Rental car customers Jim and Cathy Reid of Allentown, Pa., cut the ribbon to open the gleaming new facility. But the renting public will never know, nor need to know, the unique way the facility was planned and how it opened on time and on budget.
The key to the deal can be found in the collaboration between a turnkey development company, a progressive airport director and a group of car rental operators who were ready to pitch in and build a facility from square one.
You Want It Where?
In Anchorage, the rental car companies and the airport had talked about building a consolidated facility for years.
Rental car counters had been located near baggage claim, in an area described as “dark, dingy and crowded.” Save for a few garage spaces for VIP renters, customers would exit the terminal, often in subzero temperatures, dragging luggage across an open parking lot to their rental car.
The old system was taxing on RAC employees as well, as they had to drive a half mile to two miles from the airport to individual washing and refueling sites.
Plans began to formalize when the RACs successfully lobbied the state legislature for a consolidated facility charge (CFC) of $4.12 per day to be added to rental bills. In 2004 the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA) issued revenue bonds to be repaid through the CFC.
Concurrently, the airport was looking for a location.
Space, or the lack of it, usually drives the building of a consolidated facility. Often, that means RACs are “remoted” to an off-airport site and linked to the airport via a busing operation.
The early consulting work done for the airport resulted in the recommendation to build off-campus. Yet the local franchisees—Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, National, Payless and Thrifty—wanted the facility linked to the terminal.