Coronavirus: Car rental firm Hertz files for bankruptcy

Car exiting the empty car rental area at Hertz«s Car Rental Parking area at Miami International Airport (Photo by: Kike Calvo/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Car rental company Hertz has filed for bankruptcy despite being allowed to stay open during the pandemic.

The firm closed most of its branches in the UK and Ireland when COVID-19 hit despite being classed as an essential service. It cut 12,000 jobs worldwide and put 4,000 workers on furlough.

The lack of travel meant the company lost nearly all its revenue soon after the UK went into lockdown.

The 102-year-old firm was £15.3bn ($18.7bn) in debt by the end of March and started missing debt payments in April, court documents reveal.

Bosses feared the company would have to stop operating altogether due to having just £820m cash available across the entire business.

But the company has been able to file for a Chapter 11 restructure, which means creditors will have to settle for less than full repayment of its crippling debts, but the business will still be able to operate.

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The bankruptcy report read: "Management has concluded there is substantial doubt regarding the company's ability to continue as a going concern within one year from the issuance date of this quarterly report."

The firm, which has more than 400 outlets across the UK and Ireland, has been offering discounts of up to 40% to key workers in a bid to stay afloat.

But it was heavily hit when air and rail travel came to a near-standstill in March, with many of its branches attached to airports and train stations.

“No business is built for zero revenue,” former boss Kathryn Marinello said on the company’s first quarter earnings conference call on May 12.

“There’s only so long that companies’ reserves will carry them.”