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Apalachicola airport to begin car rental

There soon will be car rentals at the Apalachicola Regional Airport, after Franklin County commissioners unanimously approved a request from the airport’s fixed base operator

Tara Blauth, who along with Andrew Hartman are principals for Centric Aviation LLC, which runs the airport, appeared at the Nov. 21 meeting to ask for permission to offer the service, with 3 percent of the rental fees remitted to the county.

Led by Commissioner Ottice Amison, the commissioners drew a harder bargain, and agreed to the deal, but at a 10 percent remittance.

“We looked at the average fees in the state of Florida, and they ranged from 0 to 11.1 percent in airports with commercial airlines and dedicated structures,” Blauth said.

Commission Chairman Ricky Jones said he supported the idea. “I can just see a need,” he said. “Residents in the community when it comes time to rent a car have to drive to Panama City or Tallahassee.”

Blauth said Centric, which struck a deal last summer with the county to continue on as the airport’s fixed base operator, said it does not have a deal with a national company, such as Hertz or Avis. “These are our own cars,” she said. “We started off just offering them to the flying public.”

She said Centric will offer five vehicles to start, ranging in size from compacts to full size SUVs.

Amison led the questioning, noting that the prices on Centric’s website ranged from $99 to $225 per day.
“What’s advertised right now, it’s a better bang for your buck to go to Hertz in Panama,” he said, “Personally I don’t see where that’s going to be a big kick with the local community.”

Blauth said Centric plans to offer a sliding scale, where the per day price drops down the longer the rental period. “Renting a car for a week or two weeks, the daily rate goes down every day,” she said. “The long term rate goes down to $50 a day, which is a similar pricing structure to Hertz.”

Amison said he thought a 3 percent remittance was too low. “We gave them an attractive discounted rate for the last five years,” he said. “We’ve got to have foresight with this. I’m more for around the 10 percent range. I want to make sure we’re getting an adequate percentage. I want to make sure we get the best bang for our taxpayers’ bucks. We need to keep that in mind.”

County Attorney Michael Shuler said any deal with Centric on rentals could include a stipulation that if the fleet increases, the parties could renegotiate the percentage.

Amison said that the current lease deal with Centric for 25,600 square feet of space, at about $2.67 per square foot, as the airport’s fixed base operator, is fair to the company.

“We got to make sure we’re getting the right amount of money for what we got out there,” he said.

With a second by Commissioner Jessica Ward, Amison’s motion passed unanimously, 4-0.

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Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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