FlightCar's founders say they are not a traditional rental car company. Yakel said FlightCar is like Hertz or Avis because it caters to the airport's customers and draws most of its revenue from passengers flying into the airport. That means FlightCar needs to follow airport regulations for rental companies, he said.
As the lawsuit proceeds, FlightCar's business is growing. Since the company's operations started, the number of car drop-offs has climbed from 600 in mid-May to 1,000 a month later, said Rosally Sapla, a FlightCar spokeswoman. The number of rentals went from 1,000 to 1,400 in the same span.
The company — which attracted private investors — employs about 30 in San Francisco and Boston and while it has not yet become profitable, Sapla said, she expects it to be in a couple of years.
Yury Trushkov, 31, was on his way to Russia for a family vacation when he drove his gray 2007 Hyundai Sonata onto the company's parking lot Tuesday. Trushkov, a software engineer, will make $10 each time his vehicle is rented, which would beat the $200 to $300 in parking he said he has paid on previous trips.
Within five minutes of pulling into the lot, attendants had packed his five suitcases into an idling Lincoln Town Car that would drop him off at the airport. Like all cars left with FlightCar, Trushkov's Sonata would be fully insured for mechanical damage, dents or dings caused by the renter. It also carries $1 million in liability insurance, in case someone drives his car into a building, for example.
It was Trushkov's first time using FlightCar's service.
"So far, so good," he said.
The company, which usually has about 80 cars on its lot, recently expanded its services to Logan International Airport in Boston.
Matthew Brelis, a spokesman for MassPort, the public agency that runs Logan, said companies doing business with the airport and its customers are required to have an operating agreement that would encompass financial and insurance requirements and compliance with airport and security regulations.
But FlightCar has no such contract, he said.
"We want to know who's working at the airport and interacting with our customers," Brelis said. He said Boston airport officials are aware of San Francisco's lawsuit and are watching the situation.
Zaparde said the lawsuit does not faze him and FlightCar will continue to work on the business. "It doesn't help us to start worrying about what the airport thinks and what these guys think," he said.
The service keeps Walt French coming back for more. The 65-year-old Oakland resident is planning to leave his white 2002 Acura RSX at the company's Burlingame lot —which he has done a half dozen times— while he's out of town. He said any worries about damage to his car have faded away.
"I really appreciate the savings of $60," French said. "It comes out of my pocket otherwise."