Airport to bring in new valet provider a month early, after problems

Charlotte Douglas International Airport is bringing in a new valet parking provider to replace Park Inc. one month early, following reports of employees taking customers’ cars, inadequate staffing and delays with retrieving vehicles.

In February, Charlotte City Council voted to award the contract to a new company, Atlanta-based AmeriPark, after the contract went out for bids. Charlotte-based Park Inc. protested the move, saying that delays with parking were a result of construction at the airport. AmeriPark was scheduled to take over at the airport on July 1.

Interim Aviation Director Brent Cagle said Tuesday that to ease the transition this summer, AmeriPark will be brought in to run the valet operation starting on June 1. As part of a negotiated deal with Park Inc., the airport will still pay Park Inc. for the last month of its contract.

“In order to prepare for the summer travel season, the airport negotiated an earlier transition of the day-to-day management of the valet services,” said Cagle, in an email. “Park Inc.’s day-to-day management of the airport’s valet services will end on May 31.”

Park Inc. President Brian Haupricht confirmed that the company was in talks to move up its departure date by a month, but declined to comment further. Park Inc. has operated the airport’s valet parking since 2003, and employs about 230 people.

AmeriPark said in its bid for the contract that it would install new technology, such as mobile payment and real-time key and vehicle tracking, to improve service at the airport.

The three-year contract will pay AmeriPark $2.3 million annually for expenses such as employees, as well as a $36,000 management fee and a bonus of up to $130,000.

The curbside valet operation is a profit center for Charlotte Douglas. In fiscal 2013, the valet operation generated $6.1 million worth of revenue on $1.6 million worth of expenses, leading to a profit of $4.5 million.

Charlotte Douglas paid Park Inc. about $2.6 million in fiscal 2013.

The airport’s valet service has been dogged by problems, including at least two reported incidents of Park Inc. employees driving customers’ cars themselves while the owners were out of town, and a controversy over the airport’s policy of searching all cars without driver consent.

Cagle raised curbside valet parking rates almost 50 percent earlier this year, from $19 to $28 a day, and increased business valet rates 40 percent, from $10 to $14 a day.

“The airport appreciates the partnership with Park Inc.,” said Cagle.