FlightCar challenged by San Francisco and SFO

July 11, 2013

FlightCar_challenged_by_San_Francisco_and_SFO___techsportationPeer-to-peer car-sharing company FlightCar has a nifty business model: combine the need for airport parking and airport car rental into a company the facilitates the sharing of resources. I’ve written about them a few times. The basics: Car owners get free airport parking, a car cleaning and a gas card, while visitors get inexpensive car rental and a wide array of vehicle types to choose from.

Last month, the City of San Francisco and the San Francisco International Airport formally filed a complaint against FlightCar in court. They want FlightCar to pay as if they were an airport car rental company, and are seeking 11.1 percent of FlightCar’s profits and $20 per rental. FlightCar currently uses a contract limo service to deliver car owners and renters to and from the airport which requires them to pay $3.65 per trip to the airport. A single rental requires four trips: 2 pick ups and 2 drop offs, so every rental results in $14.60 in payments to the airport.

This move by the City of San Francisco and SFO signals to other startups that they are not interested in innovative solutions to transportation and infrastructure problems. Its important that the Bay Area continue to be the location where new technology is launched and incubated, and not seen as over-regulated or a place where outdated regulations are enforced to prop up existing business models.

For many car-owners and car-renters, FlightCar will be the first time they use a car-sharing service. Car-sharing has been shown to reduce vehicle miles traveled and car ownership because it makes not owning a car a more convenient option. Exposing more people to car-sharing will likely lead to increased use of car-sharing.

This isn’t the first time a new transportation technology has faced legal challenges, and FlightCar will likely find other legal issues as they expand to additional airports.

The full complaint against FlightCar is below:

2013-05-31 – Complaint for Injunctive and Other Relief