Starting Nov. 1, the V.I. Port Authority will charge St. Thomas car rental companies that are located off the premises of Cyril E. King Airport a $1 per rental day fee on every contract entered with a customer arriving via the airport.
Currently off-airport rental companies pick up and drop off their guests at the airport at no charge.
VIPA Executive Director Carlton Dowe met with representatives of off-airport rental companies at the authority’s administrative building on Tuesday to discuss the fee.
Dowe said VIPA needs to collect fees from everyone who makes use of the airport in order to improve and expand its facilities, which he said are already used by more than twice as many people annually as they were designed for.
“We have serious improvement we need to make if we want to continue to grow and to accommodate the kind of traffic that’s coming in through here,” he said.
According to Dowe, the current airport facility was designed to handle approximately 300,000 travelers per year, and last year 760,000 travelers used the facility.
VIPA has begun introducing improvements, including a third taxi-only exit lane, to improve what Dowe referred to as a “bottleneck situation” in the airport parking lot.
Car rental companies are not the only businesses that are seeing a new VIPA fee. Dowe said a fee for limousine drivers using the airport has also recently been introduced.
“It is the position of the Port Authority that for everyone who operates any kind of business at any one of our facilities, what was free many years ago will not continue to be free,” he said. “This is just one of those items.”
Off-airport rental companies will report the number of contracts they enter with airport customers to VIPA and pay the fee on a monthly basis. The authority reserves the right to audit the companies’ records related to airport customers.
Dowe said the implementation of the fee will assist VIPA as it continues to improve services and facilities at the airport.
“We must work together to make this product better for all of us,” he said. “That’s where we make our bread and butter. That’s the premise with which we’re moving forward with this fee.”