Rent-a-car controversy: ANA strikes back

In a full-page ‘advert’ taken out in Correio da Manhã newspaper this week, airports authority ANA has set the record straight. After weeks of political whinges over the authority’s new charges for rent-a-car operators – claiming they threaten the future of local businesses, not to mention overloading tourists’ holiday budgets – ANA’s statement shows local politicians were all informed of the plans well in advance and made no objections at all.
It is a new twist in a controversy that has been grinding on since February, attracting negative comments from all and sundry, including Algarve council boss Jorge Botelho and Algarve MP Cristovão Norte.
Both men declared ANA’s plans signalled more regional unemployment and economic misery.
But, according to the statement by the national airports operator, none of the organisations “representative of the sector” raised any objections to the plans when they were presented earlier this year.
“It is because we knew the present measure, besides being necessary, required strong dialogue that care was taken throughout the process to encourage everyone’s inclusion”, said the statement.
A “series of meetings” was held throughout the country “with total transparency”, continues ANA.
All the “interested parties”, including PSP police, municipal authorities and Turismo de Portugal, were consulted and not one suggestion or modification was presented, says the authority.
Needless to say, ANA’s statement does not appear to have included talks with the car hire companies that now face stiff new charges.
Nonetheless, ANA contends the new regulations will improve the functioning of the airports it manages and do away with the “negative image” that “unlicensed operators” have developed.
The new regulations that charge car hire companies between €10 and €17 per vehicle and between €20 and €24 for shuttles will “contribute to a better experience for tourists visiting Portugal”, as the conditions made available to operators will be improved, says ANA.
“Up until now, the way rent-a-car companies without premises at the airport ran their businesses – with contracts signed in cafés and cars delivered in car parks – forcibly created a negative image which we want to do away with once and for all.”
Whether this statement brings an end to the wrangle remains to be seen. For now it shows the airport operator has no plan to back down on the charges, which came into effect from April 1.