Wall Street Crisis May Cause Phoenix Airport Fees to Rise

Travelers who rent cars at Sky Harbor International Airport, in Phoenix, may face a 33 percent fee hike thanks in large part to fallout from the Wall Street crisis, reports The Arizona Republic.

The City Council is expected to increase a fee tacked on to every car rented at Sky Harbor's Rental Car Center. On Jan. 1, the customer facility charge will go from $4.50 per day up to $6. The fee is one of several surcharges that rental-center customers pay in addition to the cost of the car.

An average of 4,913 cars are rented each day at the airport. The rental-car center opened in 2006 and covers 141 acres, consolidating all of the airport’s rental-car businesses into one facility.

The fee increase is tied to the construction tab for the $285 million facility, which the city bankrolled with $270 million in bonds. The city also bought bond insurance from the Federal Guaranty Insurance Company.

Since then, that insurance firm's rating has tumbled due subprime mortgage problems, triggering a contract clause that forces the city to scrape together a $21 million debt reserve in 12 months. The $21 million is the equivalent of one annual debt payment.

According to The Arizona Republic, several airports around the country have had the same problem.

A 2007 Travelocity study, which compared a city's average daily base rate for an airport car rental and the average total amount due, ranked Phoenix as the nation's sixth most expensive location for an airport car rental. Kansas City, Mo., was No. 1.

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