In order to control quality of the service offered at the airport by car rental companies, the airport authority decided to change a few things.
Back in the 70’s, 80’s the few existing car rental companies like Cheshire in Aruba used to have a booth inside the airport, just by the exit-doors at the arrival terminal. There were only a few rental companies at the time and tourism wasn’t that big so this system worked. Incidentally there might have been a squabble between security and the car rentals because of bad parking in front of the airport, but things worked out.
Aruba’s tourism started to grow, naturally more rental companies opened and requested, and granted, a booth at the airport. It reached a point that there wasn’t any more space and the airport was growing itself and they needed that real estate themselves.
As a result they decided to build little offices across the street in front of the airport to rent out to the car rental companies. They build a bunch of them, over 20 offices. These offices were, and still are, highly lucrative for a rental company, not to mention for the airport. These little offices bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars each year for the airport.
Since about three years there has been a change in management. Aruba Airport is run by Schiphol Group (Amsterdam Airport in The Netherlands), and they send an executive to run things and he’s been very busy. He cleaned up the place. Financially and structurally the airport is in better shape. The new management wasn’t afraid to implement unpopular measures as a mean to reach important goals: profitability and continuity.
Management reviewed all contracts with suppliers, vendors, employees etc. The airport got a face lift, parking changed, big signs were installed, pesky taxi personnel is going to be checked more thoroughly etc.
And now it’s turn to take care of the car rental booths in front of the airport. Management is going to reduce the amount of booths from 20+ to 10. All companies that are interested must enter the bidding process and the 10 highest bidders get a space, thus win a concession for a few years. Rental companies need to comply with stricter rules regarding product and customer service.
This brings up some interesting questions. Is the airport going to get the same amount of money from the 10 companies that are returning as they got from the 20+ they had before? Apart from the bidding and rent is the airport getting a piece of the sales as well? Aruba airport already does this with the retail businesses inside the departure terminal. And are the car rental prices going to increase?
Within the next four to five weeks we will know more. Then all winning bidders will be known and we can learn more about the prices. The car rental companies that lost the bidding and don’t return can still do business at the airport and take advantage of an eventual price hike by the ten remaining car rental companies.