Corpus Christi International Airport is looking to partner with car-sharing company Turo to bring more car rental options to passengers.
Turo is a peer-to-peer car-sharing app that allows private car owners to offer their vehicles to guests on an online mobile platform.
Some would consider this the Airbnb option for cars.
Through Turo, customers can book whatever car they want by filtering locations, prices, vehicle models and years. Turo has been argued to be slightly inexpensive compared to car rental companies like Hertz or Enterprise. More so during the pandemic as car rental prices hit record highs.
Kevin Smith, director of aviation for the city of Corpus Christi, said although this could bring some friendly competition to car rental services, providing another option like Turo at CCIA could expand tourist interest while allowing for more innovation in the city.
"I think the rental companies will have a little more heartburn over it, but we’re trying to grow the business. Anything you can get in the city, we want to be able to offer it here in Corpus Christi," Smith said.
Turo is already successful in more than 70 airports, including some of the largest, like Los Angeles International Airport and Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta. In addition, Abilene Regional Airport just started offering Turo to passengers last week, making them the first airport in Texas to provide the service.
Turo spokesperson Catherine Meija said that:
“We’re really excited about having that availability there [Corpus Christi International Airport] because that means that it’s great for not only people that want to come and visit Corpus Christi, while seeing all the beautiful places that it has to offer. But also, anyone who lives around the airport who has an extra vehicle and wants to make money off of that,"
However, large airports like Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport have filed a lawsuit against Turo in October 2021.
The hope is to get the company to pay an extra tax or cease all operations at the airport, which could interfere with existing operations of other car rental services like Alamo and Thrifty. The trial began April 24, 2023 for the case in the 32nd District Court Tarrant County. For now, no word on the progress of the pending lawsuit.
Furthermore, DFW's board of directors also approved a resolution last year, requesting a change to the airport’s code of rules and regulations to allow illegally parked cars, such as vehicles booked through car-sharing platforms and left at terminals for passengers, to be towed.
Rental cars brought in about $33 million to DFW airport in 2022, placing third behind parking and concessions, according to the airport’s August financial report. Parking racked up $145 million in 2022 and concessions brought in $95 million.
On the contrary to what Turo actually offers, DFW airport staff allegedly informed the board of directors that Turo's rental cars are identified through undercover transactions, which further emphasized DFW's desire to cease operations completely.
Turo argues it is not a rental car company and, therefore, not subject to the same regulations as a traditional company.
Through a pending permit with CCIA, Turo will pay a percentage to operate, but its hosts will have free rein to book with guests without any restrictions. In the long run, CCIA and Turo collectively believe this service could be a win-win for both companies.
"The permit will essentially create that rule of the road so hosts will know where to go to pick up their vehicles and where they can be on property," said Meija, "Then, for the airport, this is obviously a win-win for them as well because they are able to turn this permit into earnings and an engine for themselves.”
For Jerod Brunick, he hosts two of his vehicles on Turo, including his 2017 Mercedes Benz GLS. He said utilizing Turo at other locations have been beneficial to him and his family. However, expanding the service to CCIA would allow for more trips, which ultimately results in more money in his pocket as a host.
“It ends up working well for us. I work from home, my wife works in town," Brunick said. "So basically, we just plan when we have to drop it off. We work out a system like that where I meet her in town, or I drop her off from work and then we pick up the car in the evening.”
With the positives that Turo has brought to the Brunick family, Jerod said he would love CCIA to consider a particular parking area for hosts to store their Turo vehicles at a monthly rate.
So, hosts like himself will not have to pick up their vehicles every time their guests drop it off. After post-trip inspections, hosts could possibly leave the vehicle in a designated Turo parking spot, ready for the next guests.
This could cut down on Brunick and other hosts' stress of figuring out the logistics of getting their vehicle back home.
For now, CCIA says they're still in the research process before they can officially offer Turo to passengers. They are currently in communication with other airports that have successfully partnered with Turo to find out more about their conditions and fees.
CCIA will then discuss the next process with the airport board of directors. Once further steps are determined, CCIA directors will seek guidance and authorization from the city council to adjust a Title IX ordinance before getting the green light for Turo.
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