Car rentals are scarce as summer travel is expected to increase

Posted at 8:27 PM, Apr 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-21 13:57:53-04

UPDATE: Boise Airport officials corrected numbers in this story stating that traffic has been increasing month over month in 2021, not year over year.

With new car shipments delayed, there has been a higher demand for used cars.

The increased demand and limited supply have now created a shortage of cars across the country. Last week, Idaho News 6 covered some of the complications local dealerships were facing as a result and learned the car rental industry is also impacted.

When the pandemic first hit, car rental companies sold up to 40% of their fleet to stay afloat as travel rapidly decreased and people weren't leaving their homes. Now, as consumer confidence grows and people are more comfortable traveling, car rental companies are struggling to meet the growing demand for rentals. That's forced people to spend almost double to secure a reservation.

Boise Airport officials say they're already seeing an increase in passenger traffic this year compared to last.

"In January, we saw 157,000 passengers. In February, that number improved by about 4,000 passengers," said Sean Briggs, Boise Airport spokesperson.

With the arrival of four new flights to the airport this summer, Briggs predicts growth will happen at a quicker rate.

"In June and July 2021 there’s actually a greater capacity than there was in 2019 and as you remember 2019 was a record year for the Boise Airport with over 4.1 million passengers."

Production delays and shortages continue to hinder rental companies' attempts to bounce back before the summer travel season but Jonathan Weinburg, the founder of a website designed to help customers find rental car dealstold Idaho News 6's sister station, KTNV, that replenishing inventory may take a while.

"The big issue right now is that there just aren't enough vehicles to go around, both new and used pricing is at historic highs," said Weinburg.

He encourages anyone needing a rental car to make reservations in advance but warns it may cost more than usual.