Peer-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to be the location where new technology is launched and incubated, and not seen as over-regulated or a place where outdated regulations are enforced to prop up existing business models.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
Flightcar launched support for its second airport today at Boston Logan. Flightcar is a peer-to-peer carsharing company focused around airports.
Car owners can list their car on flightcar and in return get free parking while away, a car wash and pickup/dropoff service curbside at the airport. Renters can rent cars from flightcar and be picked up at the airport. The cars available for rental are more varied and potentially nicer than those available from traditional rental agencies. Its a win-win. This video explains a bit more about how Flightcar works:
Flightcar has been operating at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) since February and has listed about 650 cars and had 1000 reservations. Now, San Francisco residents who leave their cars with flightcar while traveling to boston can rent a flightcar on the other end, effectively enabling carswapping.
With flightcar expanding and Zipcar launching some airport locations, the options for airport-based carsharing are really expanding.
Zipcar jumped into the airport transportation business yesterday announcing cars located at New York airports (JFK, Newark and LaGuardia). The cars are located at lots that have frequent rental shuttles to them. Unlike traditional rental cars however, once you arrive at the lot there is no need to wait in line, fill out paperwork or puzzle over insurance and gas offers. This is a substantial improvement over the traditional airport car rental situation.
Zipcar requires roundtrip rentals, so this means that airport Zipcars are only suitable for short trips. For someone visiting New York for a weekend (and needing a car) it may be a perfect option. Currently, Zipcar offers small sedans (Nissan Sentra, Honda Civic) at $12/hour or $89/day.
San Francisco already has two airport carsharing options – DriveNow and FlightCar. DriveNow allows one-way car trips from Oakland or SFO airport to locations downtown SF, Palo Alto and Mountain View using electric BMWs. This allows for more flexibility than Zipcar’s roundtrip requirement as you don’t have to pay for the car once you’ve arrived at your destination. FlightCar is a peer-to-peer car sharing service that currently serves SFO. Like other peer-to-peer carsharing services, it offers a wide variety of vehicle types and will pick you up curbside. FlightCar’s pricing is less than traditional car rental companies, and it allows you to skip the lines and paperwork associated with airport car rental.
Zipcar’s move to offer airport carsharing locations is one of the first noticeable changes to its service since being acquired by Avis. The airport lots where Zipcars are parked are Avis car rental locations.