WALLA WALLA — The community’s busiest auto rental service is putting the brakes on its local operation.
Hertz will shutter its operation at the Walla Walla Regional Airport at the end of this month, airport and Port of Walla Walla officials said.
Walla Walla is one of six communities that will lose the rental service under the Pasco operator Hertz Car Rental.
Airport Manager Jennifer Skoglund said she was told the rural markets are not as profitable as airlines push more travelers to major hubs.
Other communities slated to lose their Hertz service are Wenatchee, Yakima, Pendleton, Moses Lake and Klamath Falls, Ore.
Hertz has been the market leader for auto rentals in Walla Walla. It’s one of two based at the airport and one of three in the community.
Budget also operates at the airport. Enterprise is located on Ninth Avenue.
In 2012, Hertz rented 1,558 vehicles, compared to Budget’s 1,149 and Enterprise’s 398.
The airport receives revenue from two different sources attached to all of the rentals services. It receives 10 percent of gross revenue from each service for rent. It also receives $5 for every transaction made.
In 2012 Hertz posted local revenue of $280,651.67. That figure was up from the previous year’s $279,523.14, but down from 2008-2010. The high during the last five years was 2009, when revenue was $371,105.16, according to data provided by the airport.
Budget showed a similar drop in 2012, compared with more robust years in 2008 and 2009.
But Enterprise, which has had a markedly smaller portion of the market share has gradually grown.
In 2012 it reported to the airport $57,767.32 in revenue. That’s almost double the revenue in 2009, and a rise from $56,394.95 in 2011.
Skoglund said the gap in service could be picked up by the other existing agencies, or a new one could come to town.
“We have other services, but based on the 1,500 (rentals from Hertz last year) that are still out there, I believe another agency or a current agency will pick up the slack,” she said. “There is still money to be made.”
Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at email@example.com or 526-8321.