Rental Collections Up at RDU Despite Flat Air Traffic

Rental car companies at Raleigh-Durham International Airport are on track to collect a record-breaking amount of revenue despite the fact that passenger traffic is essentially flat this year, the Triangle Business Journal reports.

The eight rental car companies that operate at the airport brought in $44.9 million in revenue during the first four months of RDU's fiscal year, compared to the previous year when the companies collected $38.4 million during that same period. In addition, the number of passengers dropped almost 1 percent from 2005 to 2006.

Airport Director John Brantley thinks a healthy economy is once again spurring business travel, which is resulting in more car rentals. Another likely factor is higher rental car fees, according to the Triangle Business Journal.

Rental car industry insiders say companies are raising the rates they charge due to price increases the firms are incurring when they buy cars from manufacturers. For years, the manufacturers offered deals to rental car companies as a way to build market share and branding.

However, American manufacturers are now trying to offset financial problems by limiting fleet sales and are no longer offering those deals. As a result, the cost of acquiring cars from a manufacturer is up about 27 percent, says Triangle Rent A Car President Frank Colonna.

The airport takes a 10 percent cut from the revenue the car rental companies collect, in addition to the rent that it charges them. Brantley expects to use the rental car revenue to help make debt payments for projects such as the $430 million Terminal C redevelopment project.

While passenger traffic has been flat at the airport, Alex Wenzel, a shift manager at Avis Rent A Car's RDU location, says business has been good and that there still have been plenty of customers.

Hertz Corp. owns about 30 percent of the market share at RDU. Avis is No. 2 with about 20 percent.

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