Thrifty eyes regional expansion


Car rental franchise Thrifty is on an expansion trail in the region following the opening of its Middle East and North Africa regional office in Dubai last year.

The company which has franchise operations in Bahrain, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Lebanon, Morocco, Jordan, Turkey and India (which is to open soon), aims to extend its presence to Syria and Tunisia this year.

"Thrifty being a market leader in many markets now has over 5,000 cars in the region," said Sam Eltibi, the regional director for Thrifty Middle East, Near East and Africa.

"We are planning to expand our fleet and presence as we are especially encouraged by the increasing number of tourist arrivals from within the GCC."

A 100 per cent franchise company, Thrifty was named the best franchisor in car rental by the Entrepreneur magazine of the US. Thrifty UAE won the worldwide franchise of the year award in 2000 from Thrifty Corporate.

Eltibi said that while the company had felt the effects of the September 11 terror attacks in the US to "varying degrees", these were very limited and localised.

"We have started recently seeing extremely encouraging growth signs. If things keep going in that direction, we will exceed 2001 results in 2002," he said.

US-headquartered Thrifty offers more than 85,000 vehicles at 1,300 locations in 61 countries.

With global revenue of $796.9 million in 2000 and more than 6,000 employees worldwide, Thrifty has a significant presence in both the airport and local car rental markets.

The company says it has links with the world's major automated reservations systems, including Sabre, Apollo and Amadeus as well as seamless connectivity with Worldspan's Car Source product.

Thrifty also offers its customers a range of benefits through its ties to loyalty programmes of its partners such airlines and hotels including Aeromexico, Air Canada, American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hilton Corporation, Icelandair, Kuwait Airlines, Northwest Airlines, US Airways, Qantas, United Airlines and LatinPass, a consortium of 10 airlines in Latin America.