Archive for November, 2010

Consultant tells D/FW Airport board to raise rates for parking on and off airport property

Friday, November 5th, 2010

By ERIC TORBENSON / The Dallas Morning News |

If it wants to maximize revenue, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport needs to raise parking rates for both customers and off-airport operators that benefit from passengers, a consultant recommended Tuesday.

Ricondo & Associates of Chicago outlined steps that would boost the airport’s annual revenue to $166 million a year by 2020 from $97 million in its most recent fiscal year. Among the recommendations:

•Raise rates $2 a day for terminal parking in 2011 and another $1 a day every three years beyond that. The rate rose Oct. 1 from $17 a day to $18 a day for TollTag users and $19 a day for those who don’t use TollTag. Parking at the terminal is D/FW’s most expensive option and its biggest money-maker, though its fees are lower than rates at similar-size airports.

•Add new options for parking, such as a “premium” option for Terminal D that would allow fliers to park close to the terminal for a higher rate. The airport should also start a reservation program and a loyalty program to keep up with other airports.

•Improve D/FW’s express parking by covering spaces, and follow up with rate increases.

•Fix remote parking, which loses money for D/FW, by lowering shuttle bus costs and adjusting rates, which would probably mean raising them.

•Be prepared to add more spaces to take advantage of airport growth.

D/FW board member Bernice Washington said the recommendations are merely starting points for the board as it contemplates how much revenue it needs from parking.

“We may not decide to take any of the recommendations,” she said at the committee meeting. The next step is for airport staff to review the consultant’s report and make its recommendation to the board.

Ricondo also recommended that D/FW adopt a single valet parking provider, instead of the four that compete today, after it renovates its older terminals. That would mean big changes for the three off-airport valet operators: FreedomPark, Airport Valet and the Parking Spot.

Parking Concepts Inc., which provides the on-airport valet services, said it would welcome a process by which the airport had to pick just one operator.

“The recommendations that were presented today reflect the excellent customer service that we’ve developed over the past three years,” said David Mueller, a vice president and spokesman for California-based PCI.

Ken Kundmueller, owner of FreedomPark and the loudest critic of D/FW’s approach to the valet parking issue, declined to comment on the recommendations Tuesday. In the past, Kundmueller has implored his customers to write to D/FW to protest what he considers unfair treatment of off-airport companies.

To finance its terminal renovation, D/FW will issue $2.7 billion in new debt to go along with its $3.6 billion of current debt. To offset the higher debt costs, the airport needs to increase its non-airline revenue, and that means finding more concession and parking dollars.

Fitch Ratings Service downgraded D/FW’s credit rating last month, saying the airport’s debt ratio would rise compared with its peer airports as it sold the new bonds to pay for redeveloping its older terminals.

At Super Bowl, luxury rental cars will be in motion

Friday, November 5th, 2010

12:00 AM CDT on Friday, October 15, 2010

By JEFF MOSIER It’s standard practice for transportation companies to bring in extra rental cars, taxis, limousines and shuttle vans to a Super Bowl region to meet demand.
The same apparently goes for Lamborghinis and Bentleys.
Benny Black, owner of Dallas-based Platinum Motorcars, said he’s already negotiating with exotic car rental operations from as far away as Florida to supplement his fleet. At any time, Black said he has 17 to 20 high-end vehicles but plans to bring in dozens more for February’s game in Arlington.
“My goal is to do close to 100 for the Super Bowl,” he said.
Black said he rented for the 2004 Houston Super Bowl, but that situation was the reverse of what he’s doing now. In that case, he was supplying extra cars for Houston companies that were swamped with reservations.
Although he hasn’t started taking reservations yet, Black said he’s already receiving calls about availability. That’s much earlier than when he started getting interest at this year’s NBA All-Star game at Cowboys Stadium.
Surprisingly, he said this market isn’t struggling as much as some might expect during a recession and its aftermath. Black said there are a steady number of business owners and executives that draw salaries and bonuses that allow them to pay hundreds or sometimes thousands per day for a rental car.
“We touch a demographic that’s not as affected as much by the economy,” Black said.
He said a Chevrolet Corvette can go for about $350 per day, while a Lamborghini Murcielago – which sells for the price of a very nice house – can cost $3,500 per day to rent.
Perhaps just as big a surprise is that the flashiest cars weren’t the first ones snapped up when business was booming at the NBA All-Star game. The two-seat exotics were too limited for some high-rollers, Black said.
Instead, many deep-pocketed fans were renting European luxury cars or high-end SUVs that could be chauffeured.
For some at next year’s Super Bowl, the car could cost more for a day than the cost of entry to the stadium.
The NFL hasn’t publicized prices for individual Super Bowl XLV tickets, but they are now locked in. The face values will range from $600 to $1,200, an increase from last year’s range of $500 and $1,000.
These numbers have been mentioned previously, but they were tentative then. Of course, tickets at these prices won’t be available to the general public.
Anyone wanting a seat at Cowboys Stadium on Feb. 6 will need to win ticket drawings or have connections to NFL teams, the league or sponsors. The other option is paying double face value or more on the secondary market or for an official travel package.