Filling the Void

Alamo to take over Molokai’s rental car operations

By Catherine Cluett

Things may not be as bleak as those in the Molokai tourist industry once feared after the only two rental car companies located at Molokai’s Ho`olehua Airport announced their closure at the location on May 31. 

Alamo Rent-a-Car will be opening on Molokai the day after Budget and Dollar’s termination. Company representatives have visited the island and say they plan to offer jobs to employees of both closing companies. Though Alamo is scheduled to open its new location on June 1, the company is not yet taking reservations. Paul Kopel, Alamo’s Hawaii General Manager, said plans are still in the initial stages, but the company will be taking over one of the two existing properties and performing the necessary renovations.

Kopel said Alamo will work with the community in determining Molokai’s rental car needs, and as of now, the company’s fleet will have a number of cars equivalent to the existing demands on the two companies, according to Kopel.  He said Alamo plans to make employment offers to current Budget and Dollar employees on Molokai after determining the businesses’ needs in the coming weeks. He added that Alamo plans to offer special rates for members of the local community.

Last year, the Department of Transportation put rental car concession operations around the state up for bid in response to an industry-wide request for lease agreement changes with the state. Previously, airport rental car concessions, including those on Molokai, were operating on revocable, month-to-month lease basis.

Brennon Morioka, Director of the State Department of Transportation, said the rental car industry as a whole approached the DOT requesting the statewide agreement changes because the short-term leases made long-term company investments difficult. Morioka said the request for proposal was universal statewide, and to his knowledge, none of the rental car companies requested exceptions to the agreement for any location. Concessions at airports statewide have been affected by the changes, though Morioka said the Honolulu airport bid will not take place until later this year.

Budget and Dollar announced their closure on Molokai after neither company submitted a proposal for the Molokai location under the new agreement, which required the longer lease and significant renovations for the Ho`olehua location Doug Harms, owner of Budget’s Molokai operation, said the companies were not able to meet these requirements. But representatives from the corporate companies have not commented as to why they did not submit a proposal to continue operations on Molokai. Harms said he knew nothing about the process until the location’s closure was announced two weeks ago. He said everyone was “just sort of stunned.”

Meanwhile, the closure of Budget and Dollar has caused temporary panic within the island’s tourism industry. A representative of one local accommodation says she is already getting cancelations because visitors can’t find a rental car. Visitors who made advance reservations with Dollar or Budget have received calls notifying them of the companies’ termination.


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