Car rental startup finds success in first month at Denver International Airport
A new car rental service could provide yet another means of transportation between Denver and Summit County. FlightCar, a new peer-to-peer car rental service, landed at the Denver International Airport last month.
Following in the steps of startups like Airbnb, Uber and Lyft, FlightCar allows customers to park their car just outside of the airport for free, in exchange for the ability to rent out their car to incoming passengers while they are gone. If their car is rented out, they can even turn a small profit, depending on the length of time of the rental.
“I am really happy with how it’s been so far,” said FlightCar president and cofounder Kevin Pretovic. “There’s been lots of traffic from people who are parking and renting … there’s a really great balance.”
The startup was created in San Francisco in 2012, by Petrovic and friends Shri Ganeshram and Rujul Zaparde, who were just 18 at the time. On April 14, the service came to Denver, one of the most requested locations according to Petrovic.
“We’ve been chipping away at it for a long time to find a place,” Petrovic said. “I think the most challenging part of getting into Denver was that the Denver airport is in the middle of nowhere; there’s a lot of undeveloped land out there.”
The service is currently housed in a temporary location in Aurora, just off the intersection of Interstate 70 and Pena Boulevard. But Petrovic said the service already has plans to move closer to the airport, and will be located at a new property just down the road from the airport, once construction is complete. The company provides a free shuttle from the lot to DIA and back.
During the month of May, the service listed a minivan for $117 per day for example, and an SUV for $61 per day. One of the cheaper sedans was priced at $33 per day. After each rental, the car is washed before it is returned to the owner at DIA. The company checks the identity and driving history of each customer before renting them a car.
While regulatory issues have sparked conflicts at other airports the startup services, such as the Los Angeles International Airport, FlightCar seems to have gotten off on the right foot with DIA.
“We treat them just like we treat everybody else,” said DIA spokesman Heath Montgomery. “All of the things that would apply to a company like them would apply to a rental car company.”
In exchange for permission to operate at the DIA campus, FlightCar gives the airport a 10 percent cut of its gross revenues. The off-airport rental car permit is good for a year, meaning the company will have to renew it next February.
So far, Montgomery said the airport hadn’t received any complaints from other car rental companies or officials.
“There’s always grumbling when new business models enter the marketplace, as we’ve seen between Uber and Lyft and taxi companies. But I think it’s encouraged greater competition and a greater diversity of services,” Montgomery said. “The airport recognizes that transportation models are changing.”
FlightCar boasts providing $1 million in insurance coverage; however, this secondary insurance only applies to damages to third parties. While the owner is protected by the company’s liability insurance coverage, it is recommended that the renter of the car either has their own insurance or purchases a coverage plan in addition to the rental, for maximum liabilities of either $2,500 or $500.
“For the renter, it works a bit more like a conventional rental car company. We give you a million dollars of coverage but it’s secondary. So we always encourage drivers to have their own auto insurance, or they can buy something from us,” Pretovic said.
Vince Plymell, communications manager for the Colorado Division of Insurance, said that while FlightCar isn’t under the division’s jurisdiction, renters should still check with the company about insurance policies before renting.
“This is all very new and exciting,” Plymell said. “But it pays to ask questions upfront before you get too intimately involved.”
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