Cleveland Limo Operators Upset Over Airport Fee

Posted on February 1, 2012

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Limousine owners and shuttle services are criticizing a plan from Hopkins Airport to charge them $3 for each trip to the property instead of requiring an annual fee.

Cleveland Airport Director Ricky Smith says he's looking to raise revenue without increasing charges paid by airlines. City Council would have to approve the plan for the $3 charge.

The chief operating officer for the park-and-ride service Park `N Fly claims the proposal would cost them $180,000, well above the $5,500 they pay for shuttle permits now, and contends the plan could force her company to stop operating in cleveland.

Cleveland Hopkins International Airport now charges $500 per vehicle annually and collects about $100,000 a year for the roughly 200 commercial vehicles with permits.

UPDATE: Steve Qua of Cleveland-based Company Car and Limousine told LCT that while he understands the airport’s need to raise money, a discriminatory tax is not in anyone’s best interest. The proposed legislation says that the director of Port Control would like to have the authority to levy a fee on all professional vehicles using the airport, but does not specify a particular amount, despite the $3 per vehicle that the press has reported.

“We did the math, and $3 per vehicle per trip to the airport would cost us about $96,000 a year,” Qua said. At the current airport permit rate of $550 per vehicle per year, Company Car and Limousine, a 34-vehicle operation, pays between $16,000 and $18,000 a year in airport fees.

“Needing money isn’t a bad thing, but how you go about it needs to be very well architected or you don’t achieve the goal you’re trying to achieve,” Qua said. “If in fact our airport and its hub status is important enough to our city, the additional burden of financing should fall either on the shoulder of everyone using the airport, whether it’s through a toll booth on the way to the airport or an additional fee on every ticket sold, or it should fall on the shoulders of the taxpayers regionally. Because on some level we all enjoy the advantages of being a hub city.”

Another way the airport could raise revenue is to simply enforce their current permit laws, Qua said. “A recent short-term empirical study about the number of registered vs. unregistered transportation companies doing business at Cleveland Hopkins shows that about two-thirds of the vehicles are unregistered,” Qua said. “We hope the council can come up with better alternative solutions to their financial problems and we’re going to be very aggressive on our position.”

Cleveland Plain-Dealer article

Related newspaper article on Cleveland airport limo shuttle operators.

Source: WTAM 1100 Newsradio

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