FlightCar, the AirBNB of cars, launches at DIA

Photo: FlightCar (AP Photo)
In this June 2013 photo, Shameem Rehmane, 51, left, a tech consultant from New Jersey, picks up a rental car from attendant Harun Ghori, right, at Flightcar in Burlingame, Calif.

Travelers looking to avoid pricey parking fees at Denver International Airport have a new option starting this week.

That is, if they are OK with a stranger driving their car.

FlightCar, a San-Francisco based startup that connects travelers with unused cars, launched at DIA Tuesday. Travelers flying out of Denver can leave their car with the company, which then rents it at discount rates out to incoming visitors. Outgoing travelers get a ride to the airport from the drop-off location in Aurora, a free car wash, and a modest payment of $30-$40 if their car is rented for a weekend.

"It's not really a rental car company and it's not really a parking company; it's sort of in the middle," co-founder and President Kevin Petrovic told the San Jose Mercury News when the service launched there earlier this year. He said he and his two fellow co-founders were inspired by AirBNB.

The company says car owners are protected from liability by a $1 million FlightCar insurance policy.

The company worked with DIA to obtain the proper licenses, said Ryan Adlesh, FlightCar's director of expansion. The San Francisco attorney general had sued FlightCar in 2013, accusing it of competing unfairly with traditional car rental companies and dodging regulations. Adlesh said the company has learned from that early endeavor.

"That was the first market we launched," Adlesh told CPR News. "We weren't all the way there to be fully compliant with regulations. Since then, we've picked up quite well with making sure we're dealing with airports in the right way."

Airport spokesman Heath Montgomery said DIA is reviewing how current commercial transportation and car rental policies apply to FlightCar.