A company called Turo is a peer-to-peer car sharing platform. Through an app or website, people can rent their car or find a rental car. Now there’s a battle between Turo and DFW International Airport over whether people can rent Turo cars there.
A judge will hold a hearing on the matter on December 2.
Turo host Betson Matthew has six different cars in his fleet to choose from.
He decided to try a few years ago with just one car.
“I decided to put the car on it for the weekend and it started to do really well, so we bought a few more cars and added to the fleet and it was a good fit for my wife and I to supplement our income,” Touro host Betson — Matthew said.
He added that his customers like the fact that they get what they see.
“It’s a lot more personalized because a lot of times the vehicle you’re renting is also the person you’re talking to is the owner of the vehicle, so the communication is a lot more personalized,” Matthew said.
Turo is not a new company.
“We’ve been around for over 10 years and this is a way for locals to share their car with a neighbor or visitor,” Turo spokeswoman Catherine Mejia said.
Mejia added that her hosts have many reasons to sign up.
“We have housewives who are doing this just to make ends meet or to supplement the bill payment or even just to pay off their car note itself,” Mejia said. “It’s just a way to pay off your car note. And we have other hosts who have done this as a small business.”
However, this business venture has been contested by DFW International Airport.
“We’re facing a roadblock at the Dallas Fort Worth airport where we got into this litigation where a lawsuit was filed against Turo and some of our hosts who are local to the airport there,” Mejia said.
DFW Airport declined to comment due to the pending lawsuit.
But in court documents filed in Tarrant County, the DFW Airport Board said “there is no legal right for non-aeronautical operators to conduct commercial activities at the airport unless they have a contract with the board.”
It goes on to say, “Because Turo is conducting such commercial activity at the airport without a ‘permit, license, lease or other agreement with the airport board,’ Turo itself is in violation of the code.”
Some householders parked cars in airport garages or curbside vehicles.
The airport wants Turo to operate like rental car companies, using the central rental car facility and paying fees.
Turo claims that they are not like a regular car rental company.
“We don’t have a rental car counter,” Mejia said. “We have no staff to hire at the car rental desk. We don’t have large fleets. Turo doesn’t actually own any vehicles. individual homeowners and residents of the Dallas-Fort Worth area who own and maintain their own vehicles.”
A transportation engineering professor chimed in on the matter.
“Airports in particular rely heavily on parking fees and spend a lot of money on these parking structures,” said Cara Kockelman, professor of transportation engineering at the University of Texas at Austin.
She understood why some businesses would have trouble with a peer-to-peer car sharing service.
“The big concern for airports or other public or quasi-public entities is whether these new ways of doing things get a free ride,” Kockelman said.
Hosts like Matthew are hoping the two sides can reach an agreement that will give him more airport options to rent out his cars.
“Absolutely, because DFW, as you know, is much bigger than Love Field and the international airport,” Matthew said. “There are a lot more people coming to DFW than Love Field.”
If there is no settlement or resolution, the judge could send this to trial next April.