Harrisburg Hikes Rental Car Fee

Harrisburg International Airport on Sunday will start adding $1 a day to car-rental rates as part of broader increases in fees and charges approved yesterday by the Susquehanna Area Regional Airport Authority.

The car-rental fee increase is the only one that affects travelers directly, according to authority spokesman Scott Miller. It does not apply to vehicle-rental operations off airport property.

Besides higher landing fees, other charges being increased involve what airlines pay to rent terminal space and for using gate, parking and fuel facilities. The increases in airline fees average 6 percent across the board, said John Reedy, deputy director of finance, properties and contracts at HIA.

Airport Executive Director Tim Edwards said the increases follow recommendations from Jacob Consultancy, a firm hired to analyze revenue and expenses at HIA.

Board Chairman John Ward said net revenue at the airport exceeded projections in the first two months of the year, but overall revenue is down by about 2 percent.

"This year and next year are very critical years for the airport" in ensuring adequate revenue to repay bonds that financed the $240 million terminal that opened in 2004, Ward said. "We can't take the chance of our revenue falling short of our budget."

Edwards said the increases in fees and charges are expected to boost annual airport revenue by about $1.2 million.

Reedy said the increases are probably overdue because the authority sought to hold off fee hikes in recent years as airlines were struggling and traffic at HIA declined. But major airlines are rebounding from bankruptcies, and the outlook at HIA is more encouraging of late, he noted.

Other increases, including higher landing fees, will be levied on airlines that serve HIA. Miller does not expect the higher fees to mean higher ticket prices at HIA, since airlines base fares on broader market factors.

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