Update: Rent-a-car “victory” as airport charges stymied

Days after airports authority ANA took out a full-page advert in a national paper justifying its controversial new charges for ‘non-associated’ rent-a-car operators, the Central Administrative Court of the South has stepped in and said “No”.
The court is reported to have upheld an injunction lodged by one of the business associations in the sector – the bottom line being that the charges that many claim spell financial ruin for small car hire firms have effectively been suspended. The airports authority now has 10 days to contest the court’s decision.
The unexpected news came early on Wednesday morning two days after ANA had taken a full-page of text in Correio da Manhã to give its side of the story.
Intriguingly, after weeks of political whinging over the plans – all of them centring on their financial implications – ANA’s statement showed that politicians and other authorities were all informed well in advance. ANA further claims that no one raised any objections.
It was a new twist in a controversy that has been grinding on since February, attracting negative comments from all quarters, including Algarve council boss Jorge Botelho and Algarve MP Cristovão Norte.
“It is because we knew the present measures, besides being necessary required strong dialogue, that care was taken, throughout the process, to encourage everyone’s inclusion,” said ANA’s statement.
A “series of meetings” was held throughout the country “with total transparency”.
All the “interested parties”, including PSP police, municipal authorities and Turismo de Portugal, were consulted and, according to the text, not one suggestion or modification was presented.
ANA contends the new regulations will improve the functioning of the airports it manages and do away with the “negative image” that non-associated operators have developed.
The new regulations that charge these operators 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.”
If the statement was designed to bring an end to the wrangle, it missed wildly.
It now remains to be seen what ANA pulls out of the hat over the next 10 days.