In a surprise move, the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA) has tentatively agreed to change airport concessionaires. The surprising part is that the existing company, Areas USA, which has held the contract for the past seven years, actually bid $2 million more than the apparent winner, SSP.
As one who travels through Orlando International Airport (MCO) very regularly, I can tell you the airside concessions are not particularly great but not very bad either. Also, GOAA does not have much of a history of awarding airport contracts to those firms who give them less money, much less $2 million. Indeed, taxi drivers scream about the fees they are charged, not only for picking up passengers but also waiting in line. And then there is the ongoing war with Uber at the airport because GOAA wants the drivers to pay at least as much as the taxis, if not more. Parking at the airport is $17 per day which is more than some airports but less than others.
To his credit, airport director Phil Brown is asking the committee to explain their decision but he may not have to look very deep. It seems that one of the committee members, as well as the airport authority chairman, work for a law firm that represents SSP, the low bidder. This is in the hands of the lawyers and politicians now, nothing the taxpayers can do but wait.