LISLE, Ill. -- Following several weeks of improving rental and reservation trends since Sept. 11, rentals for Budget Rent a Car during the Christmas and New Year holidays were strong, averaging just 4% below prior year. Car rental volume had been down as low as 22% versus prior year in late September. The company, which is owned by Budget Group, has experienced steady increases in volume and rates since early October.
"As expected, car rental volume continued to improve," said Jeff Bretson, vice president for planning and revenue management. "And, as a result of rate increases the industry and Budget took in November and again at the end of December, we're seeing revenue per day continue to rise. The holidays were the strongest weeks yet since Sept. 11."
Car rental volume through the holidays at Budget airport locations was down approximately 9% compared to prior year. At the company's downtown and suburban locations, car rental volume was up 8.6% over prior year as more people opted to drive to holiday destinations. Nearly half of Budget's revenue base is generated from non-airport locations, through its downtown and suburban car and truck rental operations.
"Vehicle utilization was slightly ahead of prior year as we continued to adjust fleet levels to meet demand," Bretson said. "Currently our fleet is about 5% below prior year, though it had been as low as 15% compared to prior year in the weeks following Sept. 11."