ANA Airports tightens grip on “unlicensed” car hire companies

Small rent-a-car companies based at Faro airport say they face ruin over plans to charge stiff “extra service fees” this season.
The plans were announced by national airport operator ANA in February and are designed to bring “non-licensed” rent-a-car companies in line with their licensed counterparts.
ANA administrator Luís Vaz said the new charges will create “equal and just working conditions for all operators” working from the airport.
Talking to reporters when he revealed the plan, Vaz claimed there are over 3,000 unlicensed rent-a-car companies working out of Faro airport, many of them working “underground, with no set rules”.
Under the new plan, these companies will be required to pay €10-€17 every time they rent out a vehicle from the airports’ premises and €20-€24 in the case of shuttles.
In return, they will be provided with adequate spots for their transactions and signposting, which will “legally qualify” their concession, said Vaz.
He warned that if operators did not obtain the required licensing, they would be subjected to financial “penalties” – and even prohibited from entering the airport’s parking lot altogether.
“We want to give the same opportunities to all operators,” he stated.
But that’s not the way the small companies see it.
An owner of one spoke with the Algarve Resident, asking to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals.
“We heard the news through ARA (Association for Rent-a-Car Companies in the Algarve) but were given no explanation as to why these measures were being implemented. “This is unacceptable. Not only do we have to pay every time we rent out a vehicle, but we’d have to accept that they could raise the prices at any time, to any price.”
The operator called the new prices “brutal” and predicted the shutdown of over 50 companies as a result.
“Tourists will arrive in the Algarve, only to find they have no cars to rent! Even the rent-a-car companies that are – as ANA considers them – ‘legal and licensed’ are going out of business due to ANA’s exorbitant prices.”
When asked point blank about the future of these small businesses, the operator was quick to respond: “ruin”.
The Algarve Resident then contacted Armando Santana, president of the Algarve Rent-a-Car association, who said he would be discussing the matter with ANA soon, so did not feel comfortable making any comments beforehand.
“We know that ANA intends to charge these service fees, but we want to meet with them to find out more and if they really intend to go through with it,” he told us.
We also contacted the Algarve Tourism Association (RTA) but President Desidério Silva was not available as we went to press.
In the meantime, we await the meeting between ANA and ARA to follow up what happens.
This is the second time that Algarve rent-a-car businesses at Faro Airport and ANA have clashed this year.
In May 2013, a bitter wrangle broke out after businesses claimed ANA was exerting “abuse of dominance” and coercive tactics by keeping them out of the airport terminal and restricted to a “container” in the car park.
To this day, many still work from the container.
Photo: In May 2013, Algarve PSD MP Mendes Bota (pictured) described ANA’s tactics as “coercive” and “abusive” after it forced small rent-a-car businesses to move out of the terminal building and operate in a “cubicle” structure in the car park.
By MICHAEL BRUXO [email protected]