Budget builds a bigger fleet

Despite the challenges car hire companies face in the region, fleet expansion continues unabated in the region
Lootah: developing new technology

TTN talks to Adeeb Moh'd Bin Lootah, general manager, Budget Rent A Car.

How has 2007 fared for the company? 
Overall it has been a good year for Budget Rent a Car, we have seen strong growth in all our business segments with increases in revenue of 32 per cent, and profitability has remained relatively stable despite the inflationary pressures 

What are your plans for 2008? (fleet expansion/ more branches) 
We expect to grow our overall fleet by 20 per cent in 2008, this is a significant increase which has been planned to take advantage of the ever increasing numbers of inbound tourists coming to all areas of the UAE. In addition the consistent increase in new businesses setting up in the UAE is good for long term rental business, it will be an objective to increase Budget's share of that business.
Do you have plans to enter into new markets?
There are no new markets planned, however we do plan to open new locations in the Emirates of Abu Dhabi and Fujairah, it is our objective to open the first of those branches in March 2008. The locations will be a mix of airport and city locations. 

What can customers look forward to in the New Year?
For Budget there will be a further concentration of resources into our technology, this will enable easier internet and direct web site reservations and give instant reservation confirmation on all available cars. The content of electronic reservations continue to grow, they increased by 52 per cent in 2006, further growth of 36 per cent was gained in 2007 and our objective will be to grow by a similar number in 2008.

What will be the biggest challenges facing the industry in the Middle East in 2008?
The main challenge will be to keep pricing within the current UAE inflation rate. Like all industries we are faced with rocketing costs, in particular the cost of new vehicles. Vehicle costs have increased by 10-15 per cent over the past 18 months and this cost has to be passed on to customers. In the past prices have remained relatively stable across the region, however the current rate of inflation means that situation has to change. Budget's objective will be to keep those price increases to an economical level and to retain the Budget reputation for providing a value for money service.