Last week’s tightening of airport security in the wake of a terror threat in Britain created a push for alternate forms of transport, much of which was directed at auto rental, according to ABC News.
Travelers sought to avoid the long waits in security lines and flocked to rental car counters, but it remains to be seen if that interest in rental will translate into increased business in the future.
Major rental companies like Hertz, Dollar Rent a Car and Thrifty Car Rental get 75 to 90 percent of their customers from airport business. Any interruption in air travel would have a corresponding effect on the number of customers renting cars, reports ABC News.
The advantage car rental companies have over commercial airlines is the ability to adjust carrying capacity in the event of a downturn, along with agreements with automakers that allow companies to return cars when passenger numbers fall for the long term.
Most rental companies did exactly that when flight capacities fell 15 to 20 percent after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, and many saw big profits in 2002 with smaller fleets.
The economic losses or benefits will take several days or weeks for car rental companies to assess, as many of last week’s inquiries may be from one-time customers looking for one-way travel to get home from wherever they were stranded.