DESPITE the many complexities of lockdowns all over the Asia Pacific Region, and a Chapter 11 plea of the parent company in the US, rent-a-car company Hertz is looking at a business as usual scenario.
In a press statement issued in response to queries from the automotive press, Eion MacNeil, Hertz Vice President for APAC said that the pandemic may have caused a drop in rent-a-car services, but operations are continuing.
A ‘Chapter 11’ case is specific to the U.S. legal environment and describes the move by a company to file for protection while management works on a financial restructure and does not equate to bankruptcy.
“The short term self-drive vehicle rental industry, of which Hertz is a key player, has been deeply impacted around the world by the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent downturn in domestic and international travel,” MacNeil said but adds that the decision by Hertz Global Holdings and certain of its U.S. and Canadian subsidiaries to voluntarily file for reorganization under Chapter 11 in the United States Courts has no material impact on Hertz operations in Asia.
This is because the Asian business units operate under franchise arrangements.
Thus in various ways, Hertz continues to operate as normal in Asia.
This includes the following regions; Singapore, Guam, Saipan, Thailand, Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Brunei, Pakistan, Cambodia, Vietnam, Macao, Japan, the Philippines, Korea, India and Mainland China.
In Singapore for example, the “circuit breaker” does not disallow travel and citizens seems to prefer using disinfected rentals rather than take public transportation. In the Philippines where there is a dearth of public transportation, including transport network vehicle services of Grab, passengers coming in from the airports have chosen available rent-a-car services.
“The decision by Hertz Global Holdings and certain of its U.S. and Canadian subsidiaries to voluntarily file for reorganization under Chapter 11 in the United States Courts has no material impact on Hertz operations in Asia which each operate under franchise arrangements.
In fact, Hertz Philippines’ even offered free self-drive rentals to all medical personnel across the country for them to be able to get to their assigned medical facility. Under this arrangement each rent-free period is for a maximum of 30 days.
According to a report that appeared in Top Gear (www.topgear.com.ph) “the company is encouraging everyone to only rent out vehicles as needed so as to allow more frontliners to be able to avail of the free services.”
“It’s business as usual for Hertz in Asia. Hertz locations are open across the APAC region and ready to help customers with their rental needs – whether for business or leisure purposes. All Hertz reservation, loyalty and customer programs continue to operate, including Hertz Gold Plus Rewards as well as our rewards, coupon, and voucher programs,” MacNeil explained.
“Customers can expect the same high level of service and reliability with enhanced cleaning protocols for extra peace of mind and Hertz loyalty program points and rewards are not affected. Since the pandemic began, we have undertaken a range of measures to reduce costs and ensure we keep the business as robust as possible,” MacNeil concluded.
The decision by the Hertz in the US was met with mixed sentiments. US officials said in a separate statement that entering a Chapter 11 is seen as a positive move and will provide more benefits in the medium-longer term as it will allow the Hertz business to continue operating while it deals with the continuing effects of coronavirus and positions itself for growth.
“We are confident we’re taking the right steps to protect Hertz across the APAC region for the economic rebound and we’d like to thank our franchisees, staff, and valued customers for their continuing support,” the statement said.