The Rent-A-Car Association has pulled out of talks with Malta International Airport over the use of the car rental parking lot in a row over new rates.

The negotiations followed the barricading earlier this month of the 182-space parking lot in the precincts of the airport that was used by car rental companies.

When contacted, an association spokesman confirmed no agreement had been reached on the new contract because many operators withdrew their interest due to the steep increase imposed by the airport.

He said the airport company wanted the annual rental fee to rise by more than €300,000 over a three-year period for all 182 parking spaces.

With a request for a three per cent increase each year, this meant the expenses would have grown by 44 per cent in the second year and almost 49 per cent in the third year.

The spokesman said the association had called an extraordinary general meeting to discuss the issue but many car rental companies said they were not interested in renting out slots in the lot.

In view of these dropouts, the association saw that it did not have enough companies to take up all the available parking slots, giving it no option but to pull out of the discussions on the new contract.

It also gave its members who were still interested in leasing parking slots a free hand to start individual negotiations with the airport.

An MIA spokesman confirmed that the company was negotiating with individual car rental com­panies. He defended the new rates, saying these were com­petitive compared with other parking operations.

He said that talks with the association were inconclusive, so the company entered into individual discussions with a number of car rental operators following various requests to continue using this reserved area.

The spokesman refused to divulge details of agreements the company struck with individual operators, saying these were of a “commercial nature and the company is not at liberty to divulge”.