As if the travel industry hasn’t been hit hard enough by the coronavirus pandemic, now comes a new issue.
A severe car rental shortage is in the offing in the U.S., a demented twist to what has been a feel-good recovery story by the airlines, in an interesting story from Business Insider.
According to the publication, when the COVID-19 pandemic halted travel around the country – particularly business travel – car-rental companies like Hertz, Avis and Enterprise sold off large portions of their respective fleets to save money. Hertz, in fact, had to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last year.
Now it’s a year later, and pent-up demand for travel is through the roof. The airlines are bringing back planes and crew, and people are ready to travel.
But they might not be able to rent a car or, if they do, they’ll be paying an exorbitant amount of money.
Jonathan Weinberg, the founder and CEO of AutoSlash, told Business Insider that the average car rental cost in Hawaii has gone from $50 a day three years ago to, in some instances, more than $500 per day.
“People are quickly realizing that they need to take the cost of the rental car into account, because it’s no longer just an add-on,” Weinberg said. “It literally could be the majority cost of your trip, so folks who are planning things last-minute are unpleasantly surprised by it.”
Hertz said it is expecting “strong demand” through the summer, resulting in decreased vehicle availability in certain parts of the country, it said in an emailed statement to Insider.
Enterprise said it is “working closely with our manufacturing partners since last summer to continue to add vehicles to our fleet to meet the ongoing increase in demand.”
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