Two top car rental franchises have abandoned Whanganui due to the city losing its ties with Air New Zealand.

Air Chathams general manager Duane Emeny said he received an email from the Avis head office last week stating that both Avis and Budget had closed in Whanganui.

"It's not a good thing - we want people to have a range of options and not having a leading car rental service, like Avis and Budget, takes away customer choice which means people may opt to fly to Palmerston North instead," he said.

Mr Emeny said Air Chathams had started working with Avis and Budget and had altered their website with an online portal to the car rentals' website.

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"Interestingly, when we started a flight route from Auckland to Whakatane, Avis and Budget decided to pull out,

"Unfortunately for us Air New Zealand has a lock on corporates as well as commercial agreements with companies like car rentals," Mr Emeny said.

Whanganui mayor Hamish McDouall said it was a real disappointed the two companies had decided to leave.

"It's a shame that these large businesses are pulling out but it may be an opportunity
for a local car hire service to fill the gap," Mr McDouall said.

A concerned customer rang the Avis head office yesterday after not being able to book a car on Saturday and was told Whanganui was not worth the spend for the franchise.

"In a city of 46,000 people, with Air Chathams flying in three times and out three times, I find that hard to believe, " the customer said.

"I know of two people just last week who picked up a rental in Whanganui to drive to Hastings."

Budget Rent a Car New Zealand was wholly owned by the Avis Budget Group. It is understood that Hertz and Pegasus Rental Cars are the only franchises left in Whanganui.