Debt for D/FW rental-car center may be paid early

Jul. 11--The rental-car business at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport is doing so well that executives there are looking at an early payoff of a key piece of debt that built the sprawling, two-story facility.

There's about $131 million left to be paid on the 74-acre facility at the south end of D/FW Airport.

But Chris Poinsatte, D/FW's chief financial officer, told members of the airport board's finance committee Tuesday that the airport could pay off the debt by 2018, which would be seven years early and would save the airport about $30 million in interest.

Total revenue for all rental-car companies at the airport has risen every year since fiscal 2002. Total sales grew 17 percent in 2006 from the previous year to $235 million. This year, it's budgeted to be $240 million.

That's mostly due to the rise in local visitor traffic, Poinsatte said.

The 1.9 million-square-foot facility opened in 2000 at a cost of $160 million. Today, it has 10 companies renting cars to about 4 million travelers, 81 percent of whom are here on business.

Cars are rented for an average of 3.4 days, according to the presentation that Poinsatte made to the board Tuesday.

For the eight months ended May 31, the rental-car business has added $18.8 million to D/FW Airport coffers. That's about 4 percent better than budgeted. But it's still the fifth-largest revenue category, behind bigger units such as parking, concessions and airfield services.

Jan Collmer, the airport board's chairman, asked whether the $4 daily facility charge that travelers are paying to retire the rental-car debt would go away when it is paid off.

"We could reduce it if we wanted to," Poinsatte said, "and that's most likely what we would do."


David Wethe, 817-685-3803

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