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Court blocks Acsa’s plans to transform airport car hire that would disqualify Imperial


Vehicle rental giant Imperial has grounded a plan to transform airport car hire.

Handing the company a comprehensive victory in the High Court in Johannesburg‚ Judge Phillip Coppin said Airports Company SA’s (Acsa’s) attempt to exclude Imperial from its premises on empowerment grounds was unconstitutional.

One of the MAN trucks with its branded Imperial Cargo trailer. Picture: SUPPLIED

Tuesday’s judgment forces Acsa to scrap the request for bids it issued last September for 10-year car hire concessions at nine airports‚ comprising a total of 71 kiosks.

Imperial‚ which operates the Europcar and Tempest car-hire businesses through 113 outlets‚ was awarded costs after Coppin rejected all but one of Acsa’s arguments.

The judge said Acsa had been vague and evasive about how it had decided to allocate marks equally based on price and broad-based black economic empowerment (B-BBEE) requirements relating to ownership‚ supplier development and management control.

Imperial told the judge it had operated airport car-hire outlets for 32 years and had a quarter of the country’s vehicle-hire market by volume and revenue. But Acsa’s B-BBEE requirements meant it would fall at the first hurdle — pre-qualification — and have to close its airport outlets.

Only 29.1% of Imperial’s senior managers are black‚ according to its website‚ and among top management only 19.5% are black.

Acsa argued that section 217 of the Constitution‚ which covers procurement‚ did not apply in this case because it was only letting out kiosks and parking space. But Copping disagreed.

He also rejected Acsa’s claim that the process was not covered by the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act‚ and agreed with Imperial that transformation criteria in the request for bids were "unsalvageably vague".

Coppin said: "By including and imposing the pre-qualification criteria contained in the request for bids‚ Acsa acted illegally."

The judge also agreed with Imperial that Acsa included the transformation criteria without any evidence that they were necessary‚ feasible or achievable.

"There is no explanation at all for how Acsa came to decide on the pre-qualification criteria‚ the 50-50 price/preference scoring model or the transformation criteria‚" said Coppin.



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