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Renting a car at Cleveland's airport? Expect to pay a bit more

An empty airline desk at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport
Annie Wu
Ideastream Public Media

New rental car fees are coming soon to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

The surcharge is expected to bring in at least $5 million a year to help foot the cost of the more than $200 million new rental car facility at the airport.

At present, visitors must travel more than a mile off-site to rent a vehicle. Once completed, the new facility will allow travelers to walk directly to car rental agencies from airport terminals.

The exact fee is yet to be determined, but is expected to fall between $4-$8 per transactional day. That amount will be decided by the city’s Board of Control later this spring.

Other airports in the region already charge a similar fee. While smaller airports like Akron-Canton charge $2 a day, larger state airports fall around $6.50 in Columbus and $7.50 in Cincinnati.

Cleveland City Council members, who passed legislation approving the surcharge on Monday night, cautioned city officials to air on the lower side of the proposed price range.

“I want to make sure that we stay competitive, because it is not too far to go to Detroit or Pittsburgh or Cincinnati to catch a flight, and people will just as quick go to one of those places,” City Council President Blaine Griffin said in Monday's finance committee meeting. Detroit and Pittsburgh charge $3 and $6 per day, respectively.

Dennis Kramer, the interim director of the Department of Port Control, said he does not believe the fee will have an “adverse effect in any way,” but assured council members that the rate can be adjusted if business is affected.

A vast majority of people renting cars are out-of-town travelers, Kramer said of data provided by the airport's rental car companies.

“So basically, you’re telling us that out-of-towners are pretty much paying this fee for the most part?” Griffin asked.

“For the most part, yes,” Kramer said.

In 2022, the airport’s three rental car companies documented 1,279,805 transactional days. The city expects similar numbers this year that they will be able to cash in on.

The new rental car facility, anticipated to open in 2027, is part of the airport’s $2 billion master plan unveiled in 2021.

The rental car agencies will set up shop in what is now the airport’s orange parking lot at 5300 Riverside Dr. Prior to construction of the site, the airport plans to add 1,500 parking spaces in its place by Concourse D, which closed in 2014.

Abbey Marshall covers Cleveland-area government and politics for Ideastream Public Media.