Hertz indicated today that it expects the financial impact of Hurricane Sandy will be neutral to positive for its car rental and equipment rental businesses, with Hertz Equipment Rental Corp. having an edge.

In the car rental business, said Hertz CEO Mark Frissora, all of the flight cancellations in the Northeast hurt the business, but that was offset by longer car rentals and lots of one-way rentals.

Photo courtesy Hertz

Frissora, speaking during the company’s third-quarter earnings conference call today, said the equipment rental business will probably end up “net positive” despite the fact that some operations had to close in the Northeast because of the storm.

Spike in car rental rates

“In the equipment rental side, when you look at the generators and the power and the pump business, those are all positive in the region right now, and we’ve been sending equipment in via trucks,” Frissora said. “We started that week — over a week ago.”

The projection of the financial impact comes as Orbitz revealed that it saw a spike in average car rental rates in on October 28, when compared with pre-Sandy October 22, in Philadelphia (50%), Washington, D.C. (24%), Boston (17%), and New York City (14%).

Jeanenne Tornatore, Orbitz.com senior editor, says car rental rates are especially sensitive to spikes in demand.

Hertz spokesperson Paul Rivera revealed October 31 that Hertz froze rates at pre-Sandy levels in affected states.

Rivera notes, however, that Hertz expected up to 6,000 one-way rentals during the “course of the recovery,” and although Hertz doesn’t tack on a special fee for one-way rentals, “it is typical for daily rates to be higher.”

Meanwhile, Avis Budget spokesperson Alice Pereira says the company hasn’t raised rental rates because of Sandy. “Pricing remains in line with normal business practices,” Pereira says.

Avis Budget is also offering one-way rentals, subject to availability, to travelers waylaid because their flights may have been canceled.